Georgia’s hate crime law is less than a year old after Governor Kemp incorporated it into law last June.
ATLANTA – While we continue to receive new information about a series of deadly shootings in three subway spas in Atlanta, police said they have not yet completed their investigation and cannot yet label what happened as a hate crime.
Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man from Woodstock, Georgia, is the sole suspect for all three shootings. According to Cherokee County officials, the video surveillance at the Atlanta spas shows the same man and car as the video at the Cherokee County spa.
For a long time he told investigators that he was not racially motivated, but claimed that he was a sex addict and, according to the police, viewed these massage parlors as a temptation that he wanted to get rid of.
But many still believe this was an attack on the Asian American community, and many have wondered what would turn what happened into a hate crime.
11Alive referred this question to our legal analyst Page Pate. He said it is always difficult for a prosecutor to prove what is in a person’s mind or heart.
“How do you show exactly what motivated this particular crime? The only way to really do this is by looking at the things the accused may have said,” Pate explained. “Often times we will see that I will see this on social media, and maybe a person keeping a digestive or diary will find it from other evidence about that person’s life.”
Another question officials would ask: whether the person has shown “this kind of heat or animus towards a certain group in other parts of the world”.
“They look for such evidence and then look into the circumstances of the crime to see if there are any patterns,” Pate said. “Obviously we have a very obvious pattern in this case.”
The Georgia chapter and the national bureau of the American-Islamic Relations Council (CAIR) on Wednesday expressed their strong solidarity with the Asian-American community.
Over the past year, CAIR has repeatedly spoken out against anti-Asian attacks across the country as part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hatred of the Asian-American community has been and is being fueled by the burning tenor of the racist rhetoric of some elected officials,” said Murtaza Khwaja, legal and political director of CAIR-Georgia, in a statement. “From the pejorative designation of the coronavirus as the ‘China virus’ to the xenophobic immigration policies of yesterday and today, women, low-income families and people of color continue to be the main victims. Yesterday’s tragedy needs to be scrutinized for what they are seems.” a hate crime. “
Georgia’s hate crime law is less than a year old after Governor Brian Kemp put it into law last June.
Ahmaud Arbery was assassinated in South Georgia. Before it was signed, Georgia was one of only four states in the United States that didn’t have a hate crime law on the books.
Bill HB426 was passed in the Senate by a margin of 47 to 6. The move was sent back to the House to discuss Senate changes, including data collection and reporting requirements and the addition of gender as a protected factor.
The measure provides for additional penalties for crimes motivated by the race, skin color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender or disability of a victim.
Bipartisan support for the move had been called into question when Republicans added protective measures for first responders to the bill. However, these safeguards have been removed from the bill and included in another measure that has also been passed.