Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has signed into law a controversial “Blue Lives Matter” bill that makes it a hate crime to target police officers, putting Kentucky at the forefront of a new political trend, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Last year, Louisiana became the first state to extend hate-crime protections to police officers. Since then, a flurry of similar bills have been filed in other states, and Kentucky’s own proposal zoomed through the Republican-dominated legislature this year. Kentucky’s law adds police and other first responders to the state’s current hate-crime law, which already includes race, religion, color, sexual orientation and national origin as protected classes.
Supporters say the new laws are a response to deadly ambushes against police officers last year in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. Others say it is a political statement directed toward the Black Lives Matter movement. The Kentucky law received bipartisan support in the state legislature, although some Democrats spoke out against it. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that lawmakers in a number of states, including New York, Connecticut and Illinois, are responding to the recent upsurge in hate crimes against racial, religious and ethnic minorities by trying to strengthen laws and policies to dissuade harmful acts motivated by bias.