GA lawmakers pushing for hate crime law

ByAmanda Aguilar|May 12, 2020 at 5:08 PM EDT - Updated May 12 at 5:08 PM

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - A few Georgia lawmakers are pushing for hate crime legislation in the state in response to Ahmaud Arbery’s death.

Legislators joined together in Brunswick Tuesday to address the shooting.

Georgia is one of only four states without hate crime laws. The state lawmakers, who represent Liberty and Chatham counties, spoke in front of Arbery’s family and community members saying they plan to put pressure on the State Senate once the General Assembly reconvenes.

Hate crime legislation passed the State House last year. The State Senate never took a vote.

Representative Al Williams, Senator Lester Jackson and Bishop Reginald Jackson say this is an embarrassment for Georgia, referencing perceived hate crimes that have happened in the state.

Legislators have come up with an action plan asking for several things. First, the removals of Brunswick DA Jackie Johnson and Waycross DA George Barnhill Sr.

Not only do they want to push the hate crimes bill through the senate, they want it named after Arbery.

Lawmakers also say the citizen’s arrest law needs to be removed.

In a letter sent to the Glynn County Police Department in early April, Barnhill said the McMichaels acted within the law to make a citizen's arrest on Arbery.

Representative Williams says it’s time for a change, vowing to the Arbery family that they will get justice.

We stand with you. We support you, and we want you to know that. We’re not here for a week. We are here for a new day in Georgia,” Rep. Williams said.

Lawmakers are confident in the legislation and they’re asking for the community’s help

Republican Representative Ron Stephens from Savannah co-sponsored the bill last year. It aimed to change how crimes involving bias or prejudice are punished in Georgia.

Georgia and South Carolina are among only four states in the US without any hate crime legislation.

Photo: WTOC

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