On Tuesday (June 23), Georgia lawmakers approved a hate crime bill that would permit intensified criminal penalties for those who target others because of their gender, race, sexual orientation or other reasons.
The communications director for Governor Brian Kemp tweeted that he is expected to sign the bill. “@GovKemp commends the General Assembly’s bipartisan work and will sign House Bill 426 pending legal review,” she tweeted.
HB 426 was passed by a vote of 47-6 and was passed to the House. State Representative Scott Holcomb revealed that the bill passed the House by a vote of 127-38. Georgia is one of four states that did not have a hate crime law in place.
Earlier this month, Ahmaud Abery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones made a powerful plea to lawmakers to make hate crimes illegal in the state, after her son was shot and killed while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood. A preliminary hearing for Arbery’s case revealed that Travis McMichael, who followed Arbery with his father Gregory and William Bryan, called Arbery a “fucking nigger” after fatally shooting him.
“On February 23, my son Ahmaud Arbery went out for a jog. Ahmaud would go out for a jog everyday,” Cooper-Jones said. “He was followed by three white men, who chased him and killed him in the street. He was unarmed, but he was Black.”
“To me, this was clearly a hate crime, but Georgia is one of four states without a hate crime law,” Cooper-Jones continued. “If Georgia had a hate crime law, Ahmaud’s killers could face additional sentencing for murdering my son because of the color of his skin.”
“To have this passed in the name of Ahmaud wouldn’t bring him back, but it would mean so much to me,” she concluded. “[It would mean] him leaving me did change something.”