Firefighters and Paramedics treating patient

—Targeting paramedics or firefighters is now considered a hate crime

A bill slated to double penalties for crimes where police officers, firefighters or paramedics are targeted, passed the Mississippi Senate by a 37-13 vote.

Senate bill 2469, a “Blue Lives Matter” proposal now moves onto the House.

The bill says any crime committed against emergency personnel because of their status as police officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians would be a hate crime.

State law currently doubles penalties for targeting people because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.

“This is a response to law enforcement being shot down for nothing more than putting on their uniform and wearing the badge,” said Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, the bill’s lead sponsor.

The measure drew opposition from African-American senators. Some warned they feared that police would use the heavy penalties as a shield to abuse black men.

“If we pass this law, it will only embolden those law enforcement officers who hold a grudge, who don’t like people,” said Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson.

The House Judiciary B Committee sent a separate proposal to the full House Thursday. House Bill 645 would triple penalties against anyone who commits a violent crime against emergency personnel.

Unlike the hate crime bill, it doesn’t require prosecutors to prove intent. However, it wouldn’t apply to crimes that some skeptics of the bills had worried could be used to impose harsh penalties on protesters, such as resisting arrest.

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