By: Emanuella Grinberg
Opponents of the Protect and Serve Act, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called on the Senate to oppose the bill.
The organizations said the bill wrongly extends hate crimes protections to a group that does not need them because they are not vulnerable to bias or discrimination in the same manner as people of color and other historically marginalized communities. And they called it superfluous in light of existing federal and state laws.
“Hate crime protections are intended to aid prosecution of crimes that are historically under-charged and are typically enacted when law enforcement or prosecutors lack the will, capacity, or legal remedies to prosecute offenses committed against certain individuals or groups,” the organizations said in an open letter.
“There is no record to suggest that prosecutors are unwilling or unable to charge individuals with crimes against law enforcement. In fact, crimes against police officers are treated as among the most heinous criminal acts, given the high degree of culpability and punishment attached to such crimes.”
In a time of increased scrutiny of officer-involved shootings of people of color, the groups warned that the bill could further erode relations.
“Rather than focusing on policies that address issues of police excessive force, biased policing, and other police practices that have failed these communities, the Protect and Serve Act’s aim is to further criminalize,” the letter said, expressing concern that the measure “ultimately threatens public safety and undermines the work of law enforcement.”
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