Photo of the Georgia state capitol taken on March 2, 2014 by Andre M.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Georgia Senate advanced a bill on Friday to increase sentences for defendants who commit hate crimes. The bill, called the “Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes Act.” was stalled for over a year.

Georgia Republicans advanced a version of the bill that included police officers and other first responders as “protected classes.” Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens stated, “It is imperative that we support our law enforcement personnel that puts their life on the line for us just as we do these other classes, categories, groups of individuals.” 

Opponents of the addition questioned the inclusion of those occupations alongside immutable characteristics within the hate crime bill. Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlant, referred to the inclusion of police as a “slap-in-the-face” to individuals who are targeted on a regular basis. The Georgia NAACP President Rev. James Woodall stated, “We are done dying and compromising with white supremacy,'” adding that he believes the police already have protection under current laws. 

Republican Speaker David Ralston added, “If we leave here this session without passing a hate crimes bill, it will be a stain on this state that we can never wash away.”

Lawmakers will reconvene on Monday, June 22, and will have five days to move the bill forward.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Georgia Lawmakers Push Hate-Crime Bill in Wake of Ahmaud Arbery Shooting – The Wall Street Journal – 6/22/2020. A bipartisan group of lawmakers is racing to pass a hate-crimes bill in Georgia, one of a handful of states without a law that penalizes crimes motivated by bias.

Georgia senators say hate crimes law should protect police – 11Alive – 6/22/2020. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday night approved a hate crimes bill passed by the state House over a year ago but added “first responders” as a protected class alongside race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability. 

Georgia senators want police to be protected group under hate crime laws – Newsweek – 6/21/2020. Republicans in Georgia’s state Senate are pushing to include protections for police officers and other first-responders under new hate crime legislation, in a step that could derail efforts to increase penalties for those committing crimes motivated by race, religion or sexual orientation.

Georgia House passes bill to dissolve county police departments, legislature takes up hate crimes bill – Fox News – 6/22/2020. The Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would allow voters to decide whether they want to abolish county police departments, putting the fate of the much-maligned Glynn County Police Department in jeopardy following its handling of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Matt wants to end Qualified Immunity for police on Twitter 6/22/20 : I just want to point out that, in Georgia, Republicans changed a hate crime bill in committee to include cops as a protected class and now the people that originally wanted that hate crime bill are now lobbying hard to kill it.

Cameron McWhirter on Twitter 6/21/20: Spurred by the killing of #AhmaudArbery, some #Georgia #Republicans are pushing to pass a long-delayed #hatecrimes bill in the brief two-week legislative session ending later this month

Endeavor Report on Twitter 6/21/20: A bipartisan group of lawmakers is racing to pass a hate-crimes bill in Georgia, one of a handful of states without a law that penalizes crimes motivated by bias

Ali Gostanian on Twitter 6/22/20: Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, to Georgia legislators: Pass a hate crime law

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