Georgia Governor Passes Law Granting Cops Protected Status For 'Bias-Based' Crimes

from the saving-the-protectors-from-the-protected dept

Georgia governor Brian Kemp -- last seen here trying to turn his own election security problems into a Democrat-lead conspiracy -- has just proven he's unable to read the room. The governor can't read the room in his own state, much less the current state of the nation. Less than a month after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis triggered nationwide protests against police violence, officers in Atlanta were involved in a controversial killing of a Black man in a fast food restaurant parking lot.

The state of the nation is pretty much the same as it is in Georgia. Now is not the time to be offering police officers even more legal protections, considering how much they've abused the ones they already have. Idiotic bills touted by legislators saying stupid things like "blue lives matter" come and go. Mostly they go, since they're either redundant or unworkable. These laws try to turn a person's career choice into an immutable characteristic, converting some of the most powerful people in the nation into a class that deserves protection from the public these officers are sworn to serve.

It's now possible to commit a hate crime against a cop in Georgia, thanks to Kemp and his party-line voters.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a proposal into law Wednesday that Republicans pushed to grant police new protections despite stiff opposition from critics who said it creates a messy tangle of legal problems.
[...]

In a statement, Kemp said he took action because he has attended the funerals of too many law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and he called the measure a “step forward as we work to protect those who are risking their lives to protect us.

“While some vilify, target and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue,” Kemp said.

The standalone bill was a concession to state Republicans, who refused to help pass an actual hate crime bill without being able to give more protections to already-very well-protected police officers. Not only does the law make it a crime to engage in "bias motivated intimidation" of police officers and first responders, it gives them a way to exact revenge on anyone they believe has wronged them. From the bill [PDF]:

A peace officer shall have the right to bring a civil suit against any person, group of persons, organization, or corporation, or the head of an organization or corporation, for damages, either pecuniary or otherwise, suffered during the officer's performance of official duties, for abridgment of the officer's civil rights arising out of the officer's performance of official duties, or for filing a complaint against the officer which the person knew was false when it was filed.

Critics of the bill believe this addition to state law would give officers a way to sue anti-police protesters for whatever harms officers feel they've suffered while policing demonstrations. And it would affect more than protesters. Anyone interacting with a police officer runs the risk of being sued because "damages suffered" is limited only by the officer's imagination and the court's tolerance. Even if the suit is baseless, the defendant still has to show up and defend themselves, using their own money while officers play litigation roulette with the taxpayers' bankroll.

Then there's the heart of the law, which makes certain acts hate crimes:

A person commits the offense of bias motivated intimidation when such person maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate, harass, or terrorize another person because of that person's actual or perceived employment as a first responder:

(1) Causes death or serious bodily harm to another person; or

(2) Causes damage to or destroys any real or personal property of a person because of actual or perceived employment as a first responder without permission and the amount of the damage exceeds $500.00 or the value of the property destroyed exceeds $500.00.

Those acts are punishable by five years and/or a $5,000 fine. And the acts described are already crimes. Doubling down on crimes to make cops feel special may actually make things more ridiculous, as the ACLU has explained.

According to the bill, anyone found guilty of the death, serious bodily harm or destruction of more than $500 worth of property of a first responder, specifically because of his or her occupation, would face between one and five years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.

Currently, the punishment for murder includes death, life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison.

Since the targeted killing of a police officer could be considered “bias motivated intimidation” of a first responder, the ACLU says a legal argument called the “rule of lenity” requires courts to pursue the charge that is the most favorable to a defendant.

And the most lenient charge is the new law, which calls for only a five-year sentence (maximum) for killing a cop if the crime appears to have been motivated by anti-cop bias. Prosecutors who want to do the most damage to cop-killers won't be pursuing bias charges. They'll ignore the new law completely. Legislators were apparently made aware of this conflict prior to the bill's passage but apparently figured it would sort itself out once it became law.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jesse Stone, a Waynesboro Republican and attorney, said he was made aware of a potential problem with the legislation late Friday.

“I think if they were charged with bias motivated (intimidation), that might be a concern,” said Stone, who voted for HB 838 and is retiring this year. “I haven’t studied it, but I think it’s something that should be looked into.

Yes, the best time to look into potential problems with legislative proposals is after they've become law. Everything about this new law is terrible, including its path to the governor's desk. It passed with one vote, divided entirely along party lines. And it shows one party is far more concerned with pandering to its powerful law enforcement voter base than protecting citizens from their public servants.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, blue lives matter, brian kemp, georgia, hate crime, police, police rights


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 3:47am

    George Floyd's death does mean diddly to most of those in power. Its just a damn nusience for all the damage it caused. It won't change the way cops do their jobs in the end, they will just dig in all the more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 4:17am

    Brian Kemp's entry into the Governorship

    Considering that Brian Kemp was overseeing the election process whilst running for the same office, I think he doesn't have to worry about the piddling voters. They're a nuisance, anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 4:35am

    There is the problem.

    Brian Kemp said he has "gone to too many cop funerals" so he decided to take action. Well, said action should start by him going to the funerals of police brutality victims instead. Perhaps they can move Kemp to action too. God knows people need protection from police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:06am

      Re: There is the problem.

      You mean that there is a causal-correlation correlative-cause exactly like how doing more testing for COVID causes more people to have it? In that case, Kemp is clearly causing those cop deaths, "took action because he has attended the funerals of too many law enforcement officers"

      Thus if he stops attending the funerals he won't need to take action. Doesn't he WANT a simpler life?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:17am

        Re: Re: There is the problem.

        Clearly all that needs to happen for there to be less cop deaths is for Kemp to stop attending cop funerals.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:25am

          Re: Re: Re: There is the problem.

          I am not convinced he attends any funerals, cop or otherwise.

          Is it the attending of funerals he dislikes or is it the death? I find it a stretch to think he cares about anything other than himself.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jeff S, 12 Aug 2020 @ 8:00am

      Re: There is the problem.

      4 officers have died in the line of duty so far this year and none of them were targeted.

      https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/4-georgia-officers-killed-in-the-line-of-duty-in-2020/JR357ZN WI7SVFOF7757Q74YAFY/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 9:02am

        Re: Re: There is the problem.

        And of those, two were "lost control of vehicle".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 4:34pm

        Re: Re: There is the problem.

        I was actually wondering what the numbers were, thanks.


        New law could send myocardial infarctions to prison for up to 40 years for killing cops, Governor says.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 10:56pm

        Re: Re: There is the problem.

        Wow...

        "Bibb County Deputy Kenterrous Taylor, 27, was killed when he crashed on the way to a burglary call. Taylor lost control of his patrol car"

        So, clearly that means that cops should not be held accountable for murdering unarmed black people since their job is so dangerous...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 4:32pm

      Re: There is the problem.

      He wouldn't have time to do anything else. So, net positive?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:02am

    Police State demands compliance, there is no logic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:07am

    Since the targeted killing of a police officer could be considered “bias motivated intimidation” of a first responder, the ACLU says a legal argument called the “rule of lenity” requires courts to pursue the charge that is the most favorable to a defendant.

    I can only read that as saying "This law actually incentivizes killing first responders", since it actually makes the penalty significantly lighter. (For any people who are confused: incentivizing killing anyone is a bad idea.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 2:03pm

      Incentivizing killing

      For any people who are confused: incentivizing killing anyone is a bad idea.

      Tell that to the police union murder classes. Best sex you'll ever have is after you've killed a man.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:14am

    I happen to agree with Mr. Kemp; police should not be the subject of hate crimes.

    Assaulting or even killing a police officer solely because of their uniform is the same as assaulting or killing someone based on the color of their skin; making a fabricated assumption that they're of immoral character, simply so you can rationalise hurting them.

    This principle goes back two-and-a-half centuries, to the Boston Massacre and the English soldiers tried; people should not be prosecuted for the uniform they wear, only for the crimes that they themselves have committed. To do otherwise is to sink into tyranny, with citizen turned against citizen by fear of being punished for the actions of their loved ones and coworkers.

    I hope that with this law that everyone is reminded not to lump the innocent in with the guilty, to only punish those individual officers who cause harm and suffering, and those who aid and abet their misdeeds.

    ...Which is, admittedly, approximately around 100% of them at the moment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:46am

      Re:

      "Assaulting or even killing a police officer solely because of their uniform is the same as assaulting or killing someone based on the color of their skin"

      It's really not. Hint: a person chooses whether to be a cop.

      "making a fabricated assumption that they're of immoral character, simply so you can rationalise hurting them."

      To reuse an often repeated sentiment - there was a word for people who sympathised with and fought with the Nazi regime and protected Nazis from retribution. They were called Nazis.

      "to only punish those individual officers who cause harm and suffering"

      ...except that's been tried, and the "good" cops stand behind the "bad" ones and protect them from punishment. Many things have been tried, and it was rare that even the most obvious abuse of powers was rarely punished. The problem is systemic, which is why it's got this far. the only thing that's changed recently is that there's so much video evidence of police brutality that only to most dedicated boot licker can deny it happens

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 6:14am

      Re:

      "Assaulting or even killing a police officer solely because of their uniform is the same as assaulting or killing someone based on the color of their skin..."

      Bullshit for two reasons, and given the end of your comment, i think you knew that and missed placing a /s there.

      It's worth bringing the arguments to the contrary to the table though, before Baghdad Bob shows up and starts screaming about how blue lives matter more than others...

      1) It is already as criminal to murder a policeman as it is to murder a non-LEO citizen.
      2) In practice the police officer can today murder a non-LEO citizen with far less risk than the other way around.

      Thus the one and only thing Kemp has accomplished is this message; "The lives of those not in blue have less legal worth than the life of a LEO".

      Which in turn means that not only have police an easier time circumventing the consequences of malicious action, they are now also, by law, held to be of greater worth than anyone else.
      A real old-style republican like Reagan or Eisenhower, would be the first ones to condemn a law on the books which abolishes equality under the law.

      "...Which is, admittedly, approximately around 100% of them at the moment."

      Well, yes. The last person you want to be in the world is the guy who rats out a fellow officer just because the guy had a hobby of murdering people on the job.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Here is where I get confused.. the government hires men and woman to kill for political bias everytime there is a war. Its not the killing that governments object to, but killing without authorization politically.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Aug 2020 @ 1:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "...Its not the killing that governments object to, but killing without authorization politically."

          Just another thing wrong with the world. You might argue that having airlifted a soldier into contested territory said soldier exercises self-defense when he's attacked or attacking those who really want that soldier off their turf.

          Normally, though, you don't send soldiers into war telling them "Now be extra careful about the black dudes. Make sure you get rid of them before they become a threat" and no soldier, ever was trained to be as triggerhappy as the US police forces are.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      " ... people should not be prosecuted for the uniform they wear, only for the crimes that they themselves have committed."

      Agreed ....... Now why is it law enforcement is not held accountable for their criminal behavior? A SCOTUS ruling that's why.

      "I hope that with this law that everyone is reminded not to lump the innocent in with the guilty, to only punish those individual officers who cause harm and suffering, and those who aid and abet their misdeeds."

      Don't hold your breath.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 2:06pm

      Killing based on uniform

      Assaulting or even killing a police officer solely because of their uniform is the same as assaulting or killing someone based on the color of their skin

      You mean it isn't because the uniform indicates they are agents of a hostile belligerent? Because currently police departments routinely regard civilians (those not wearing the uniform) as the enemy, as demonstrated commonly in their leaked intra-office communications.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      The number of cops killed as targets for just being a cop is like 10 since the turn of the century.

      Yeah, no one should do that. No, you don't need an additional law for performative reasons.

      Also, good luck with proving motivation. "You committed that robbery for the sole purpose of having police respond so you could murder them under the guise of attempting to escape."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 6:38pm

        Committing crime to draw police victims

        I actually thought that would be a great premise for a vengeance heist short story, but I couldn't work out how to feasibly SWAT the precincts convincingly enough to bring an entire siege crew.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2020 @ 7:00pm

      Re:

      not to lump the innocent in with the guilty... only punish those ... who cause harm and suffering, and those who aid and abet their misdeeds

      You mean everything the police won't do? Like shooting unarmed, fleeing men in the back?

      Why should civilians be held to a higher standard when clearly cops won't?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anon, 12 Aug 2020 @ 5:21am

    the title of this article is half-true

    The Georgia Legislature introduced and PASSED this legislation before Kemp signed it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 6:28am

    he has attended the funerals of too many law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty ...

    I wonder if he also attends the funerals of firemen? EMTs? Health care workers suffering from COVID?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 6:39am

    An election-stealing fascist doing fascist shit. There's a decent chance of this taking place on the national stage soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 10:36pm

      Re:

      Not too decent. Any law has to pass both parts of the legislature and, currently, half of that body won't pass anything that grants more power to police.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 13 Aug 2020 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re:

        Ha funny premise but we all know it is not about preventing police gaining more power.
        It was on their watch that they got all this extra power in the first place.
        It is only to be contrary and downvote anything from the other color. Its Red vs Bllue but not at all funny.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 14 Aug 2020 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re:

        Any law has to pass both parts of the legislature and, currently, half of that body won't pass anything that grants more power to police.

        Who needs laws when you can appoint judges?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 6:57am

    No religion, too

    a person's career choice into an immutable characteristic

    Just as a career choice is not am immutable characteristic, and therefor not deserving of special legal protection, religion is also a choice, not an immutable characteristic, and therefor also not deserving of special legal protection. This change needs to be made in many areas, including "hate" crimes, employment discrimination, tax-exempt status, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:14am

      Re: No religion, too

      Just as a career choice is not am immutable characteristic, and therefor not deserving of special legal protection, religion is also a choice, not an immutable characteristic, and therefor also not deserving of special legal protection.

      The problem with that, is that religious minorities have been–and still are–targets of bias crimes: e.g. Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs (usually mistaken for Muslims). If we add race into the mix, we could add black churches. My very own synagogue was vandalized fourteen years ago. To say that religious discrimination wouldn't occur because one could just convert implies the same logic as the Catholic inquisitions of the past: people are being forced to believe in something against their will, and unlike Cops, who have proven to do actual harm towards others, people who are religious–or irreligious, as it may be–can be either good or bad; they could be child molesters at the Catholic Church; or be pilgrims for peace like the Quakers. While the protection of bad cops is systematic and relative to the occupation, one's religion is a personal choice as opposed to a professional choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 2:14pm

        Targeting religions

        Curiously, protections and benefits to religions seem to only apply to Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Evangelists. And conspicuously not to anyone who is not Christian. The Church of Scientology gets its thanks to their own team of lawyers that litigate anytime the CoS is ignored.

        I think protections of religions and religious beliefs are fine if they're always enforced, and applied to all faiths (and philosophical ideologies that preclude faith, such as naturalism. In our current era of selective enforcement, a church has to be Christian or rich to be recognized.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:01am

    ACLU says a legal argument called the “rule of lenity” requires courts to pursue the charge that is the most favorable to a defendant.

    Actually, the rule of lenity only requires the construction of a statute to be the most favorable to a defendant. It does not mean that the state has to charge the crime with the lowest penalty. Otherwise you could never have first-degree murder (because there is second-degree), or second-degree murder (because there is manslaughter).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:27am

    Regrettably, I think he read the "Georgia Room" quite well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:28am

    Just what is needed, another law to protect officers. You know, because there aren't enough of those. Currently, if someone yells "Fuck you, cop!" and injures the officer, there is no recourse. Those indentured servants in blue need more laws to save them.

    On another note, I have to wonder if this law will survive the 1st amendment challenge sure to come.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:30am

    problem is this statement

    "... this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue,”

    If that isn't a black check for any action, what is?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 7:31am

    Where's the find-and-replace button when you need it...

    Because if there's one group out there that always needs more legal protections it's the eternal victims, the poor oppressed police who simply cannot catch a break.

    The kicker of course is that if you swap out the terminology so that the bill would apply to victims of cops this could have been a good bill, allowing said victims to go after cops personally for violations and/or destruction of property. Applying it to cops however makes it nothing less than a disgusting publicity stunt, a way to pander to thugs and/or gullible fools who think that 'protecting' police no matter what is a good thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2020 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Where's the find-and-replace button when you need it...

      I said it at the start, they are just going to dig in all the more. Expect it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 1:55pm

    Watched brooks vid.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=D9U6ztcoomw

    Iv said before, and again..
    They Knew who he was, they knew where he lived, they had his car.
    They could of let him run, and met him at his home...
    Or Waited until he was better to deal with.
    OR issued a warrant and gone to his home..

    WHY SHOOT?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Upstream (profile), 12 Aug 2020 @ 2:31pm

      Re: Watched brooks vid.

      Because if it is not fun or profitable, cops don't want to do it. And to them, shooting people with very little chance of significant repercussions is fun. It spices up their day. It may even give them a chance to claim to be some kind of hero. Arresting someone without violence is just not fun. It is boring.

      You and I know that attitude is sick, but that is one reason you and I are not cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 Aug 2020 @ 8:23am

    Fantastic:

    (2) Causes damage to or destroys any real or personal property of a person because of actual or perceived employment as a first responder without permission and the amount of the damage exceeds $500.00 or the value of the property destroyed exceeds $500.00.

    Now finally police can sue protesters for hate crimes in the wake of a "body cam failure". The gift that keeps on giving!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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