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Federal Blue Lives Matter bill passes in the House: The only member of Congress from Michigan to vote against it was Rep. Justin Amash

May 21, 2018

In the past year there has been an effort to pass legislation in Michigan that make it a more severe crime for people to target law enforcement officers. The Michigan legislation was HB 4590, and was introduced by Rep. Kesto from the 39th House District. 

Now there is legislation at the Federal level, which would do the same thing that many state legislatures have attempted to do. On Wednesday, May 16, the House passed HR 5698, also known as the Protect and Serve Act of 2018. This federal legislation reads: 

Whoever, in any circumstance described in subsection (b), knowingly assaults a law enforcement officer causing serious bodily injury, or attempts to do so—

(1)shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and

(2)shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if—

(A)death results from the offense; or

(B)the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, or an attempt to kill.

HR 5698 pass by a vote of 382 – 35.  Of the Michigan members of Congress, every one of them vote for the Protect and Serve Act of 2018, except for Rep. Justin Amash from the 3rd Congressional District. All of the other 13 Representatives from Michigan, both Republican and Democrat, voted in favor of this legislation.

The Bi-partisan Support for Cops

Supporting police departments has always been a bipartisan affair in the US, ever since the days when cops were hired to hunt down runaway slaves. Most members of Congress have always stood behind local state and federal law enforcement agencies. This was the case during the civil rights years when police brutalized members of the African American community, as was the case in during the Black Power movement. The bi-partisan support for police continued during the so-called War on Drugs years, especially during the Reagan/Bush years.

The Clinton Administration passed the Crime Bill in 1994, also with bi-partisan support. The Crime Bill included $9 billion for prison construction and $8 billion for 100,000 police officers. Among its sentencing provisions were an expansion of the federal death penalty, mandatory minimum sentencing, and “truth in sentencing” incentives to encourage states to adopt harsh punishments and limit parole. In January 1994 the President even touted the federal “three strikes and you’re out” provision of the bill in his State of the Union address. 

During the Obama Administration, the Black Lives Matter movement came into being, after numerous high profile cases involving police murdering African Americans. On average, there have been just under 1,000  people killed by the police in the US, with a disproportionately high number from the black community in 2015, 2016 and 2017, based on national data

A recent article from The Intercept, makes the case that support for these Blue Lives Matter bills, are nothing short of an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Since the Trump administration took power in 2017, there has been a continued high level of police killings of black people, along with an increase in the targeting of the immigrant community, particularly the Latino immigrant community. However, despite there being large numbers of black and latino votes supporting Democratic candidates, the Democratic Party continues to ignore these communities and supports legislation that supports the cops.

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