May 8, 2018

WASHINGTON — Congress introduced the “Protect and Serve Act” today, which purports to address violence against law enforcement. Versions were introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate, with slightly different approaches: the House version creates a new crime for offenses against law enforcement, while the Senate version does too, but designates any violence against police a hate crime under federal law.

Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel at the Washington Legislative Office at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following reaction:

“This bill serves no purpose other than to further dangerous and divisive narratives that there is a ‘war on police.’ The House creation of a new criminal statute for offenses against police is superfluous, given the many existing federal and state laws that protect law enforcement officers specifically. The Senate’s version is nothing short of offensive to historically persecuted and marginalized communities across this country. Federal hate crimes laws were passed to correct the centuries of inaction and injustice that too often was the response to violence based on immutable traits and identities, including race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. This definition under no possible interpretation, could include being a member of law enforcement. Congress should vote this down quickly and decisively.”

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