SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A draft law to revise the detention law of Georgian citizens has cleared another hurdle. It was passed unanimously at Georgia House on Wednesday. Go to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.
Towards the end of the Georgia legislature, several bills are under the microscope to become law. With cross-party support, the controversial detention law moved a step closer.
Georgia will be the first state in the country to repeal its citizen’s arrest law. Governor Kemp welcomed the final passage of the law and said he looked forward to incorporating it into law.
State representative Carl Gilliard is sponsoring the bill, which has been working for two years to weaken the statute.
“It was a two year journey that was a lot of passion and commitment. Democrats have led the indictment on this matter and I think that is powerful, ”Gilliard told News 3.
Current Georgian law was enacted during the civil war and allows citizens to arrest someone if a crime is committed in their presence or if they “know immediately” that a crime has been committed.
“It makes it illegal for a citizen to take it into their own hands, and it puts responsibility back in the hands of the law,” said Gilliard.
The statute change comes after Ahmaud Arbery was shot while jogging in a Glynn County neighborhood in February 2020 after being mistaken for a burglar. The father-son duo who armed and chased Arbery are now behind bars.
“MS. Cooper and the Ahmaud Arbery family had to lose a loved one for the nation to notice. We look at everything from George Floyd, it had to get the nation’s attention, but we had to lose a loved one” said Gilliard.
Governor Kemp supports the revision of the law. In a statement, he said, “Our revision of the Georgian Citizens’ Detention Act is striking a critical balance by allowing Georgians to protect themselves and their families while removing the language of civil war in our laws that is ripe for abuse.”
“We have to get on with the job and say no more, and Georgia really has to become the state that’s too busy to hate,” said Gilliard.
The law would still allow business and restaurant owners to arrest someone they believe has stolen something. Licensed security guards and private investigators have the same rights.