On Friday, June 26, Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, signed a hate crime bill into Georiga law, no longer making Georiga one of the four states in the U.S. to not have hate crime legislation.
The Georgia Senate and House had approved the hate crime legislation on Tuesday in a largely bipartisan vote. The hate crime legislation strengthens penalties for those convicted of crimes against people based on race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This is the first time that Georiga has passed a law that has protected the LGBTQIA+ community.
Kemp also thanked lawmakers who jumped to crafting the legislation after the video of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery was released in May.
“Under this Gold Dome there are plenty of disagreements and division, but today we stand together as Republicans and Democrats, Black and white, male and female from rural and urban and suburban communities to affirm a powerful but simple motto: Georgia is a state too great to hate,” Kemp said.
However, this did not go without controversy. Protestors stood outside as the hate crime legislation was being passed because another piece of legislation that would protect police officers was being passed as well. Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was absent from the signing of the hate crime legislation because of this.
“To see the Legislature prioritize (police protections) instead of repealing citizen’s arrest is heartbreaking and does not do justice for my son,” Cooper-Jones said.
The law goes into effect on July 1. However, the hate crime law is not retroactive for crimes committed before the date.