Will Minnesota Pass a “Blue Lives Matter” Bill?

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By Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota (Hennepin EMS) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. 7/21/16 9:26 a.m.

A series of so called “Blue Lives Matter” bills have been introduced in 10 states across the country, aiming to add law enforcement officials as a protected class under hate crime legislation.

State Legislators are introducing the bills in response to attacks on police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge and other places. Louisiana became the first state to pass such legislation into law at the end of May. The law protects police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel.

The proposal has been floated in nine other states, as well as at the federal level. WKOW reports Wisconsin Rep. David Steffen, a Green Bay Republican announced his proposal last week,

In the wake of the Philando Castile shooting, Gov. Mark Dayton questioned whether  the young man would have been shot if he had been white. The “appalled” Dayton called for justice “with the greatest sense of time urgency.”

State Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-30A) has been sharply critical of Dayton’s statement on social media, urging the public to let the Castile case play out before passing judgement.

The recent protests on I-94 highlight just how dangerous Gov. Dayton’s uninformed comments to the media were,” Zerwas said, “With zero facts the Governor insisted the officer involved shooting was racially motivated, and agitated the situation rather than calming the situation.”

“We have complete faith and confidence in Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation,” Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association’s Executive Director Andy Skoogman wrote in a statement, “We are confident the prosecutorial review will focus on the facts of the case.”

Skogman did not take a definitive stance on the Blue Lives Matter Bill. Instead he merely emphasized the MCPA’s willingness to work with legislators in a general sense.

“As police leaders, we look forward to working with lawmakers as they craft policies to support our efforts to make our communities and the profession safer,” Skoogman wrote.

Zerwas’ support for the police notwithstanding, if an addition to Minnesota’s hate crime legislation is forthcoming it will be from somewhere else.

“I believe a crime is a crime and the state should not be in the business of trying to read someone’s mind in an attempt to determine motivation,” Zerwas said.

The offices of Governor Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk did not respond to requests for comment. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association also did not respond to a request for comment.

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