This year, Louisiana enacted a so-called “Blue Lives Matter” law that made police officers and other first responders a protected class under the state’s hate crimes laws. The bill only drew three votes in opposition when it passed the Louisiana Senate and passed unanimously in the Louisiana House. It was signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards, whose brother is a sheriff.
The law was never used until this week. A 34-year-old man, Raul Delatoba, had gotten drunk and became disorderly at a hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter (which is not an uncommon thing). He was so drunk and disorderly that two Louisiana State Troopers were called in to arrest him (again, not uncommon).
Here’s what happened when he got to the New Orleans Police Department’s 8th District station, according to Nola.com:
According to arrest documents, Delatoba was drunk and banging on a window at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St. around 5:15 a.m. Monday, when a witness who heard the banging told him to stop. Delatoba’s warrant says he yelled at the witness, “calling him a n—–.”
That witness, a security guard who works at a nearby building’s mezzanine, along with a security supervisor for the Royal Sonesta, flagged down two Louisiana State Troopers who then escorted Delatoba to NOPD’s 8th District station, the warrant states. Once at the station, the warrant states, Delatoba began to verbally “attack members of the New Orleans Police Dept.” The warrant states Delatoba called one female officer a “dumb a– c—” and another officer a “dumb a– n—–.”
The warrant states Sgt. S. Jackson instructed NOPD Officer Williams Knowles to charge Delatoba with a hate crime in addition to damaging property and disturbing the peace. “The hate crime charge stems from Delatoba’s attack on individuals based on their race, sex, and occupation,” the warrant states.
This was clearly a case of an NOPD officer who wanted someone to “respect my authoritah.” Delatoba was charged with a hate crime. The NOPD has since admitted to a local columnist that the hate crime charges are not warranted in this case.
The underlying reality is that the “Blue Lives Matter” law is both unnecessary and was passed with the worst of intent. Louisiana, like most states, already has enhanced penalties for violent attacks on law enforcement.
The new law was clearly intended to slap Black Lives Matter in the face and push the false perception that Black Lives Matter somehow waged a war against police because they dared to protest the fact they’re victims of racist policing tactics. This law is mindless populism at its worst.
I wrote back when Blue Lives Matter was being considered: “Hate crime laws are thoughtcrimes. They should be repealed. We should punish actions, not the thoughts that motivate them.” The case of Raul Delatoba shows that’s absolutely the case.