Kemp’s intention is to lift the arrest of citizens and amend the new law to remove legal loopholes that could be used to justify vigilance, his office said.
ExploreRead Governor Kemp’s statement on the AJC’s Detention of Citizens Act on 02/17/2021
Marissa Dodson, a lobbyist at the Southern Center for Human Rights, praised the proposal. She and her organization have been working with lawmakers to repeal the law for at least last summer.
“It’s unnecessary, dangerous, and has played a central role in sustaining violence against black vigilantes both recently and in the past,” she said.
The law gained national attention last year after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot after being followed by three men who claimed he was a burglar. Local prosecutors initially refused to prosecute the white men, citing the citizen’s detention law.
“The horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery shook a Georgian community to the core,” said Kemp. “Ahmaud was the victim of a vigilant style of violence that has no place in Georgia, and some have tried to justify the action of his killers by claiming they have the protection of an outdated law ripe for abuse.”
After the video of Arbery’s death was released in May and the GBI began investigating the case, the citizen’s arrest defense was ignored and all three men were charged with murder. You have pleaded not guilty.
ExploreBreakdown Podcast: The backstory of the Georgian Citizens’ Arrest Act, which allows people to arrest other people
The video of Arbery’s death also spurred lawmakers to pass hate crimes law last year after nearly 20 years of trying to put law in the books. The law increases the penalty for people who commit crimes against someone based on traits such as race, sexual orientation, and religion.
The Georgia Democrats, the state NAACP, and other groups stepped up their calls for the repeal of citizens’ arrest laws and the removal of stand your ground rules shortly after the graphic video of Arbery’s death was released. Under stand your ground laws, a person can say that he defended himself and was not obliged to withdraw during a confrontation with someone else.
“(Citizen’s Detention Act) is out of date, out of date and leading to Ahmaud Arberys,” said Chris Stewart, an attorney who represents Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones.
Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Columbus Democrat who is a co-sponsor of HB 479, said that by revising the citizen arrest, after passing a hate crime law, lawmakers will take the necessary step to deliver the pledge To meet Arbery’s family that a significant change would come upon his death.
“I can honestly tell you that if it hadn’t been for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you about the civil arrest today,” said Smyre. “And sometimes, when you’re in a reflection mode, you look back and say, ‘How didn’t we do this before? ‘And for me you just have to keep going. “
Under current law, any Georgian who believes they have witnessed a crime can arrest the alleged perpetrator if the crime is “committed in his presence or immediate knowledge”. If the crime is a crime and the person suspected of having committed it tries to flee, Georgians may arrest that person “on reasonable and probable grounds”.
Kemp’s suggestion is that Georgians who arrest someone they suspect may have committed a crime should either contact the police within an hour of their arrest or release them.
“There’s definitely a balance here,” said Brian Strickland, chairman of the Senate Justice Department, a McDonough Republican. If the legislation is approved by the House, it will likely be reviewed by its committee. “What we don’t need is that we all play police on the street. That may have worked in the 19th century, but you definitely don’t want to see that today. “
Proponents of the current version of the law say an overhaul is not warranted and that it is rarely used successfully as a defense in court so no change is needed. However, opponents often counter that its infrequent use makes it unnecessary and should be eliminated.
The voters are now divided. A recent poll of the Atlanta Journal’s constitution found that 46% of respondents are in favor of repealing the law and 45% are not.
Georgia has had laws on the books since 1863 that allow residents to take law enforcement into their own hands if they witness a crime and the police are not around. The idea dates back to the 13th century.
Critics say the laws are easily abused and no longer necessary with widespread law enforcement protection and 911 service.
A revision of the law almost gained importance in the past year. In the final days of last year’s legislature delayed by the pandemic, Republican leaders tacitly worked with Democrats to work out a compromise that would have scaled back or repealed the citizen’s arrest law. But the deal was broken and lawmakers vowed to return to the drawing board.
This year’s legislature opened with a promise by Kemp to revise the statute during his state of the art speech when he called it “an outdated law ripe for abuse and allowing sinister, evil motives”.
Since then, his office has consulted with lawmakers from both parties and interest groups to improve the measure.
James Woodall, NAACP President of Georgia noted that Kemp revealed the legislation shortly before the year-long anniversary of the death of Arbery, who was killed on February 23, 2020.
“The newly introduced bill has to go through the entire legislative process,” he said, “but we are fully confident that Governor Kemp and lawmakers in both chambers and both parties will be able to put this legislation into law during this session . ” ”
Staff writer Christian Boone contributed to this article.
Georgia has had laws since 1863 that allow residents to take law enforcement into their own hands if they witness a crime and the police are not around. The law gained national attention last year after local prosecutors refused to indict three white men on the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was fatally shot after persecuting him, saying they believed he was one Housebreaker.
Under current law, any Georgian who believes they have witnessed a crime can arrest the suspect if the crime is committed “in his presence or with immediate knowledge”.
Governor Brian Kemp’s proposal would continue to allow corporate employees, security officers, private investigators and truck scales inspectors to arrest someone they believe has committed a crime. It would also allow off-duty police officers to make arrests when they are not on their territory.
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