Proposed revision of arrest legal guidelines for Georgia residents

“This bill repeals existing Civil War-era law to prevent the dire consequences of a vague and outdated law,” said Kemp.

ATLANTA – Governor Brian Kemp announced a bill on Tuesday to revise the arrest statues of Georgia citizens.

This is followed by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by three men in South Georgia last year. The prosecution at the time declined to indict the men in the case, citing the arrest of a citizen. The act was denounced as a vigilante murder.

A hate crime law was passed last year, thanks in part to efforts that emerged from the outcry after Arbery’s death.

“Last summer, leaders under the Gold Dome took historic, bipartisan action to pass hate crime laws and reaffirm that Georgia is a state too big for hate. Our efforts to revise the Citizen Arrest Act build on this work with a balanced approach to protecting the lives and livelihoods of ourselves, our friends and our neighbors, “said Kemp.

“In a national political climate where it often seems that no one can agree, I am proud to say that this bill has broad, non-partisan support in the General Assembly, our law enforcement community and civil rights organizations,” he added .

RELATED: Governor Brian Kemp Officially Signs Hate Crime Act

The bill, sponsored by Bert Reeves (R – Marietta), representative of the Kemp Administration Floor Leader, aims to repeal the current Georgia Citizens Arrest Act by removing any possible loopholes that could justify Vigilance could be used.

However, Kemp said the bill does not violate “sacred protection” for Georgians to defend themselves or others.

“This bill repeals existing Civil War-era law to prevent the dire consequences of a vague and outdated law and clarifies when a citizen, business owner or law enforcement officer can reasonably arrest a person,” he said.

The measure would create specific cases where a person could arrest someone, give law enforcement the right to make arrests outside of their respective jurisdiction in certain circumstances, and much more.

RELATED: Judge Denies Second Request to Hear Accused of Murder Ahmaud Arbery

Rev. James Woodall, President of the Georgia NAACP, praised Kemp.

“When we see this law being used over and over to justify not only the murders but the extrajudicial murders in Africa, we fully support the law,” Woodall told 11Alive.

In the summer of 2020, amid social justice protests, the NAACP led 7,000 people to the state capital to demand the lifting of the arrests of citizens.

“Not only did the governor hear that, the General Assembly heard it, too,” said Woodall. “Individuals arresting or arresting other citizens create a public safety problem. And we’re not saying that, these are sheriffs, police officers and lawyers who say that these issues represent a lack of transparency in these engagements. “

Marissa Dodson, Public Policy Director at the Southern Center for Human Rights, agreed.

“As we saw in Braunschweig, it is very dangerous, if not fatal, for the person who is at the end of the arrest of this untrained citizen.”

Dodson said she often hears conversations confusing arresting citizens with law to stand still.

“If you tell someone that we are going to lift a citizen’s arrest, they’ll hear, ‘I won’t be able to defend myself.’ Which is absolutely not true. But we will no longer authorize people to exercise a certain authority over others because they believe they have committed a crime, “said Dodson. “That’s why we spend a lot of taxpayers money to train law enforcement officers.”

Both Dodson and Woodall said they wholeheartedly support the law as written and hope it goes through without changes and is quickly signed by Kemp.

Woodall added, “We can’t just react to public policy with emotions, we look at the data and the research and the statistics and know that we are making the best policy choice for our state in the long run. “