NOPD Issues Statement After Man Was Arrested In N.O. For Violating Blue Lives Matter Law (UPDATED)
Update: NOPD issued a statement saying, "After reviewing the initial facts of the case, it is clear that the responding officer incorrectly applied the law relative to a hate crime in this incident."
Just over a month after the Blue Lives Matter law went into effect, a man has been arrested in New Orleans and charged with a hate crime against police officers. Police say 28-year-old Raul Delatoba was being booked on unrelated charges, when he used sexist and racial slurs against the arresting officers. Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, Marjorie Esman, says Delatoba should not have been charged with a hate crime for what he said, because free speech is a constitutional right.
“The problem here is that this man is being penalized for what he said, and it does not matter under the Constitution who he says it to,” Esman said.
Delatoba’s bond was set at $15,000- $10,000 for the hate crime, and $2,500 for each of the other charges, disturbing the peace and criminal damage to property. Esman says police have lost sight of the fact their job.
“Their job is to protect people’s rights, including the right to speak, and we are hoping and assuming that the District Attorney will see this for what it is and not press those charges,” Esman said.
Alexandria Representative Lance Harris authored the Blue Lives Matter Law. He says he pushed for the new law to give District Attorney’s another tool in their tool box and provide protection for first responders.
“It’s abundantly clear in the law what you have to violate to be charged with it, and then that would be up to the discretion of the DA to apply those charges,” Harris said.