Black Lives Matter protesters silence lawmakers after First Resp - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Black Lives Matter protesters silence lawmakers after First Responder Protection Bill passes in House

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -

Attacking a first responder would be considered a hate crime in Kentucky under the "First Responder Protection Bill," which passed in the House on Monday.

The bill passed 77-13, but those who voted against it say it's divisive. Some even think the proposed law is racist.

After the vote, Black Lives Matter protesters silenced lawmakers on the House floor.

"It's because you're racist!" one protester shouted.

"Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!" the protesters yelled on their way out of the House chambers, forcing legislators to pause discussions.

"They're very energized in what they believe, but I think they're misguided" said Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville). "This bill had nothing to do with their cause, whatsoever."

Bratcher sponsored House Bill 14, officially called "First Responder Protection Bill," but referred to by the public as the "Blue Lives Matter" bill.

It would make any attack against a first responder -- police, fire, or EMS -- a hate crime. 

The bill overwhelmingly passed, but not without criticism.

"The only thing this does is diminish the importance of Black Lives Matter," said Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville.) 

Most were in support.

"I am opposed to hate. I am opposed to hate in all its forms," said Rep. Angie Hutton (D-District 94.)

But others, like Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville), said it's not necessary. 

"These are the types of things that are very divisive," he said. "We already have protections for our first responders. The law is very stiff on these folks."

Wayne called out those who supported this bill, but voted against past measures to improve first responders' pensions.

"There's a bit of hypocrisy in the whole thing, and there's also a subtle bit of racism," Wayne said. "Would this be labeled Blue Lives Matter if there wasn't already a movement to protect black lives?"

But Bratcher said the purpose of the law is simple: to send a strong message to violent criminals.

"Attacking a first responder just for being a first responder is a heinous thing," Bratcher said. "And we don't tolerate it in Kentucky."

The bill moves to the state Senate for consideration.

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