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“Blue Lives Matter” bill: Wisconsin lawmaker wants to make the targeting of officers a hate crime

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MADISON -- A Wisconsin lawmaker says he wants the state Legislature to make police officers a protected class, so that prosecutors can charge with a hate crime anyone who targets a cop.

Rep. David Steffen

Rep. David Steffen

Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard, announced his bill on Monday, July 11. Wisconsin is one of several states where elected officials are discussing the issue.

Steffen said he was going public in response to the Dallas sniper attack last week, even though his bill won't be debated until lawmakers return to Madison in January. In the Dallas shooting, five officers were killed, while seven officers and two civilians were hurt.

"I certainly felt it was appropriate that this be the time that we introduce this legislation. Not next session. That we do it now," Steffen said, acknowledging that his bill won't be debated until lawmakers return to Madison in January.

Steffen is calling it the "Blue Lives Matter" bill, a phrase that pro-police groups have used to counter the Black Lives Matter movement that protests police shootings nationwide.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they were not happy with the "Blue Lives Matter" name.

Dallas sniper attack

Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said it was intended to "mock" the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rep. David Bowen

Rep. David Bowen

The legislation would allow prosecutors and judges to charge someone with a hate crime for targeting an officer, potentially increasing the prison sentence and fines for such a crime.

Bowen said the bill was unnecessary.

"If you do target a police officer, you will be punished to the full extent of the law. That already happens," he said. "Let`s actually do something proactive, work together, to address these things, address these situations."

Senator Van Wanggaard

Senator Van Wanggaard

When Steffen announced the bill during a news conference in Green Bay, he said Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard would take lead the effort to pass it in the state Senate.

Wanggaard, who made a career in law enforcement before becoming a lawmaker, told FOX6 News that police should be better protected. But he said Steffen should stop calling it the "Blue Lives Matter" bill.

"I don`t like that. That will not be part of the bill if I`m involved with the bill, because I don`t think you want to take and segregate groups of people. That`s part of the problem here," said Wanggaard, R-Racine, in a phone interview.

Louisiana is the only state that currently makes law enforcement a protected class, similar to prohibitions on discrimination for race and ethnicity.

Mike Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, said the union representing Milwaukee police officers supported the legislation.

"It simply makes sense as an assault directed toward an officer is the same as an attack on all of society," Crivello said in an emailed statement.

crivello

Gov. Scott Walker would "absolutely support" the bill, said a spokesman, Tom Evenson.

"These are people, men and women, who literally risk their lives every single day to keep us and our families safe," Walker told reporters in Eau Claire on Monday, according to Evenson. "It's outrageous that anyone would target them for that reason."

The suspect in the Dallas sniper attack was specifically targeting white police officers, law enforcement officials have said. The shooting occurred at a Black Lives Matter rally, although the suspect said he wasn't associated with the group and Black Lives Matter has condemned the attack.

Dallas sniper attack

12 comments

  • chris

    Good. Of course the Democrats won’t agree. Especially polished turds like Gwen Moore and Tammy “clam” Baldwin.

  • imcrazy

    If a white officer shoots a black man it’s a race thing but of a black man shoots a white cop it’s not? Something isn’t right here.

      • Rick fairfield

        Riddle me this: What is the annual number of citizens killed by cops? How many are white? Hispanic? Black? How many are killed by white cops? Black cops? How many white on white murders? Black on black murders? How many cops killed by civilians? How many of the killers were whites? Blacks? Hispanics? Give your head a shak Arie.

  • polymorph

    What if a white guy shoots a black cop is that a double hate enhancer, lol. I bet they push for it.

  • Mark

    I sure hope he supports hate crime laws for other groups of people, say, LGBT people for example, otherwise he’s a huge hypocrite.

  • PH

    Bowen said the bill was unnecessary.
    “If you do target a police officer, you will be punished to the full extent of the law. That already happens,” he said. “Let`s actually do something proactive, work together, to address these things, address these situations.”
    OK then, lets abolish all hate laws then? You support that Bowen?

  • KaitiLu

    So Bowen feels it is OK for Black Lies Matter movement to mock all other lives, but Blue Lives Matter is not OK because he feels it mocks BLM.? Childish. Call it Protect the Protectors if the name is the problem. Grow up and stop quibbling over a name.

  • turtlecroc

    @Bill W: Are you 12 years old? That’s the dumbest comment I’ve ever read on any blog post, ever. Btw, Mike Crivello is a crooked sleazebag like most cops. Cops’ lives aren’t worth more than anyone else’s. You must know that cops don’t become cops to protect the public; they do it because they’re damaged goods and want to feel the rush that comes with abusing others. Rep. Steffen and other Republican nuts want this bill so they can put you in jail for 5 years just for yelling “Pig!” (which would be a hate crime under the proposed law). Get a clue.

Comments are closed.