Story at a glance

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill Monday that repealed a Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law more than a year after Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was pursued and killed by 3 men while jogging through their neighborhood.
  • "This bill makes Georgia the first state in the country to repeal its citizen's arrest statue," Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday.
  • "Today we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self-defense of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill Monday that repealed a Civil-War era citizen’s arrest law more than a year after Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was pursued and killed by three men while jogging through their neighborhood. 

House Bill 479 effectively ends the right of citizen bystanders to make an arrest or detain a person in the state if the crime is committed in front of them or “within their immediate knowledge,” Fox News reported. But businesses may still detain individuals who are suspected of theft until law enforcement officials have been notified. Security guards may also detain suspects. The bill also retains the state’s “stand your ground” law, according to the outlet. 

"This bill makes Georgia the first state in the country to repeal its citizen's arrest statue," Kemp said Monday. "Today we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self-defense of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward."

"Too often we spend time under the Gold Dome arguing over differences. But the outpouring of bipartisan support that this bill received, I believe, is a testament to the fundamental character of our state," Kemp added.


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Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, joined Kemp at the Capitol for the signing. 

"I think the signing of this bill will make people think before they take action into their own hands," said Cooper-Jones. "Unfortunately we had to lose my son in this manner. Had this bill been in place, I think it will protect young men as they are jogging down the street."

Travis and Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were charged with hate crimes in April for their alleged involvement in Arbery’s killing. Each was charged with interference of rights and attempting kidnapping, while the McMichael’s received the additional charge of carrying and brandishing a weapon in a violent crime. 

The McMichael’s say they assumed Arbery was responsible for a series of “break-ins.” The father and son proceeded to pursue the 25-year-old in their truck before a violent confrontation. Bryan recorded the incident, showing the attack that ended in Arbery’s death.

The men also face state charges of murder, malice, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony — all three pleaded not guilty to the charges.


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Published on May 11, 2021