State Watch

Georgia governor signs hate-crimes bill into law

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an historic hate-crimes bill into law on Friday.

The bill, which the state legislature passed earlier this week, would give sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.

The bill’s passage came the same day as the funeral for Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was killed by an Atlanta officer while fleeing with his stun gun. The state also faced weeks of unrest prior to Brooks’s death, following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody.

Under the bill, somebody convicted of a hate crime would face an added 12 months for a misdemeanor or at least two years for a felony charge. 

Georgia was previously one of four states in the country without a law explicitly against hate crimes.

There was a renewed push for state lawmakers to pass the law starting in February, when Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by a group of white men while jogging in south Georgia. 

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the men who shot Arbery violated federal hate crime laws. 

In a New York Times op-ed video earlier this month, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, urged the Georgia legislature to pass the bill.

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