Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud’s sister, told CNN that she believed the shooting was a hate crime. Arbery was black and the men involved in the shooting are white.
Georgia is one of four states – including Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming – that do not have hate crime laws or require data collection on hate crimes, according to the US Department of Justice website. However, even if a state does not have hate crime laws, the Department of Justice says that these crimes can still be reported to the FBI.
“We need a safety net in Georgia that shows that we do not tolerate or support hate crimes,” said state representative Karen L. Bennett, president of the GLBC.
Bill 426 seemed to become this safety net. The bill, drafted during the 2019 session, aimed to amend the state code of Georgia so that anyone convicted of hate crime faces stiffer penalties and sanctions. Under this amended code, a person convicted of a hate crime punishable by imprisonment would be punished by at least three months, but not more than 12. A person convicted of a criminal hate crime would face at least two years in prison.
The bill was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate, according to the state’s legislative website.
Bennett told CNN on Friday that the GLBC requested a hearing from the Judiciary Committee when the General Assembly resumes on June 11 and will urge their colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill. Bennett said Arbery’s death was the perfect reason to pass the bill.
“If that does not convince our senators that we need a hate crime bill in Georgia, it reminds me of the days of lynching, the days of slavery and before our civil rights when people thought that the murder of innocent people of color was OK, “she said.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a statement to CNN saying that “the Georgians want a quick and thorough investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery”, which he knows the Georgia Bureau of Investigations will provide.
“We know that conversations about the legislation are already underway and we will continue the process when the General Assembly meets again,” said the Kemp statement.
Hate crimes remain at high levels, FBI says
The number of hate crimes committed in 2018 was actually only 55 fewer than in 2017, when levels increased, according to FBI hate crime statistics released in November.
The data showed that prejudice against African Americans made up the largest category of reported hate crime offenses related to race, the vast majority being 46.9% motivated by anti-prejudice. -black or african-american.
“I don’t think anyone wants to talk about the racism that still exists,” Bennett told CNN when he discussed the hate crime bill. “When we hear hate crimes, some people think that these are crimes committed against blacks. Hate crimes have no color, creed, gender identity, and this bill seeks to protect this class of people from those who seek to harm just who and what they are and what they represent. “
CNN’s Faith Karimi, Devan Cole and Josh Campbell contributed to this report.