OP-ED: NYS Prohibits Arrest of Residents As soon as and For All Co-authored by CARL GILLIARD, Consultant of Georgia Home, and MICHAEL GIANARIS, NYS Senate Vice President

Gianaris co-wrote Op-Ed with Georgia State Representative Carl Gilliard, who charged with ending the arrest of Georgia citizens after Ahmaud Arbery’s death

Ban the arrest of citizens once and for all

New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris represents SD12.

OP-ED: NYS Prohibits Arrest of Residents As soon as and For All Co-authored by CARL GILLIARD, Consultant of Georgia Home, and MICHAEL GIANARIS, NYS Senate Vice President

Carl Gilliard (Democratic Party) is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, representing District 162. He took office on May 5, 2016. His current term ends on January 8, 2023.

NEW YORK, NY – May 4, 2021 – Over a year ago, Ahmaud Arbery ran a run in his Georgia town – something the former high school athlete often did to keep in shape. As we now know, this otherwise harmless exercise tragically ended with his death by two armed vigilantes, self-appointed enforcers against a series of break-ins.

These ambitious trapeze cops were armed with protection – not the weapons that would shorten Arbery’s life, but the protection of the law. When the killing took place, a local prosecutor initially declined to file charges, believing the killers were acting in accordance with the Georgian Citizen’s Detention Act, which allows private civilians to prosecute suspected suspects they suspect that they have a reason to believe a crime. The case was later handled by other law enforcement officers who have since adequately charged Arbery’s killer with murder.

We need to repeal the arrest laws for cruel citizens. Each of us has taken steps in our respective states of Georgia and New York to achieve just that. These laws do not aid in the apprehension of escaping suspects, but rather reinforce the unjust and dangerous harassment of blacks and browns in the name of public safety. New York law goes even further and allows someone who implements the arrest of a child by a citizen not only to arrest the youth but also to take them to court or police force without alerting their family – effectively one legalized kidnapping, which is included in the Family Court Act.

The power of citizen arrest has a long and tortured history. From its origins in medieval England, where it was founded before there were organized law enforcement agencies, it was cemented in America during the colonial slave codes through the era of fugitive slaves and Jim Crow, allowing white citizens to continue to grow black people across the country monitor.

We have seen what happens when black communities are exposed to over-police. We’ve seen the headlines – in addition to Arbery, we know names like Trayvon Martin, Gilbert Drogheo and even others. In order to reduce the number of tragic encounters between people of color and armed individuals who act with the imprimatur of law enforcement, we must eliminate the ill-considered concept of civil liability laws.

It is hard enough fighting for a better judicial system when the police have too much power and privileges. It is almost impossible when these powers and privileges extend to individuals. If the police are unable to comply with laws about the use of force and when arrests are made, it’s no wonder ordinary Americans, often encouraged by a cartoonish understanding of citizen arrests, trigger encounters that are dangerous and become fatal.

The laws of this country too often spread systemic racism. Economic inequality caused by years of discrimination in housing and education, underrepresented color communities resulting from voter repression, and police violence against black and brown Americans all contribute to a system that treats people unfairly because of their skin color. In recent years our nation has reckoned with this unforgivable story. This is the moment when we need to put into practice the lessons of our history and reform our foundations to build a fairer future.

These problems will not be fixed overnight, and we will not pretend only one law will do it. To dismantle this basis of racism, we must begin the overdue process of ripping out most of the stones of sanctioned terror and restoring people’s trust in their communities.

It is time we closed the book on the citizen arrests once and for all. Efforts in Georgia, New York, South Carolina and rapid growth in other states are aimed at removing this inherently violent law from legal regulations. We need and hope that every state in the nation takes up this cloak and takes steps to get this archaic and racist law off the books. This is how we will begin to create a safer, more equal nation.

Gilliard is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Gianaris is a member of the New York State Senate, where he serves as the deputy majority leader.


SOURCE: Alexander Marion | Communications Director | Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader of the New York Senate