SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A group of bipartisan lawmakers are preparing to repeal Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law. Governor Brian Kemp made this a top priority during his State of the State Address.
A shocking viral video released in May has several lawmakers calling to repeal the citizen’s arrest law entirely. It comes after Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in February while jogging in a Glynn County neighborhood.
“The deranged behavior that led to this tragedy was excused away because of a law that is right for abuse and enables sinister evil motives,” Kemp said.
Governor Kemp said Thursday at his State of the State Address that his administration will introduce “significant reforms” to the law. After several deaths this last year that sparked civil unrest, Kemp said he’s trying to move the state forward.
“When I signed HB 426 into law last year I called it a sign of progress,” Kemp said.
House Bill 426 is the hate crimes bill that passed with bipartisan support. State Representative Carl Gilliard hopes House Bill 45, the bill that could repeal the citizen’s arrest law, will do the same.
“For him to outline it in the State of the State that is a major priority,” Gilliard said.
Currently, Georgia law states that a private citizen can arrest someone if a criminal act is committed in his or her presence. The law was enacted in 1863.
Gilliard told News 3 that New York Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and South Carolina Representative Wendell Gilliard plan to follow the lead of Georgia to repeal the citizen’s arrest laws in their states.
“Instead of citizens to take it into their own hands, the general concensus is call 911 and let the professionals handle it,” Gilliard said.
For him, it’s personal after losing two brothers of his own.
“Seeing the videotape of Ahmaud Arbery, seeing what his family is going through, and seeing those that are accused of murdering him, it is long overdue,” Gilliard said.
Representative Gilliard is hopeful that this legislation will pass some time between now and April. If the bill is passed, the citizen’s arrest law could be repealed by this summer.