The 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery sparked outrage and showed how civil war-era laws were applied against blacks.

Georgia revised a Civil War-era law that allowed residents to arrest anyone they suspect of committing a crime – a civil arrest law relied on by the defense of the three men who accused for killing Ahmaud Arbery last year.

The Arbery case aroused international outrage. Civil rights activists said he was another example of a targeted attack on a black man.

The Georgia General Assembly passed the bill across party lines on Wednesday with large majorities in both the House and Senate, and it is now being passed to Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has announced that he will sign it.

“Ahmaud was the victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in Georgia,” Kemp told the media.

The Citizen’s Arrest Act came under scrutiny following the death in February 2020 of 25-year-old Arbery, who was persecuted and shot while jogging near his home in South Georgia. The shooting was captured on a cell phone video that went viral.

The Georgia 1863 law allowed any resident to arrest anyone suspected of having committed a crime.

Kemp said in a press release that the bill repealed “a civil war-era language in our laws that is ripe for abuse.”

Republican MP Bert Reeves, the bill’s main sponsor, said the bill was “common sense” that should have been made long ago. It brings about a sensible reform to prevent vigilante justice. “

The father and son who persecuted Arbery – former Glynn County cop Greg McMichael and his son Travis – weren’t arrested or charged until more than two months after the shooting. A prosecutor on the case relied on the Georgian Citizens’ Arrest Act to argue that the shooting was justified.

The McMichaels’ attorneys said they followed Arbery on suspicion of a burglar after security cameras recorded him entering a house under construction. They said Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearful for his life when they were fighting over a shotgun. The McMichaels are charged with murder and aggravated assault.

The video of the fatal encounter was recorded by William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor who joined the pursuit and is also charged with murder.

Prosecutors said Arbery did not steal anything and was only jogging when the McMichaels and Bryan chased him. You remain in jail without bail.

Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough said the civil arrest law was one of the foundations of defense for all three of the defendants, and the General Assembly’s new move hadn’t changed the law in the last year.

Gerald Griggs, vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Atlanta, said the law must be repealed.

“It allowed people to just play cops when they didn’t know what they were doing,” Griggs said. “In the case of Brother Ahmaud, it was fatal.”

No negotiation date has yet been set for the three.