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‘A powerful step forward’: Gov. Brian Kemp signs GA’s hate crime bill

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 10:28 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s new hate crime bill Friday, calling it a “powerful step forward.”

[MOBILE USERS: Click here to watch the live stream of the event.]

“There are plenty of disagreements and division, but today we stand together as Republicans and Democrats, Black and White, male and female, from rural, urban, and suburban communities to a form a simple but powerful motto: Georgia is a state too great to hate,” Kemp said.

Kemp applauded the work of lawmakers for putting politics aside for the sake of progress.

“We must fight for fairness and work to secure a brighter and better future for all Georgians,” Kemp said. “We must do the right thing when no one is watching.”

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan was also on-hand at the ceremony to talk up the work done by legislators.

“You know, as we started this journey out, we were one of only four states that did not have a hate crimes law on the books,” Duncan said. “That was tough for me to explain.”

Georgia now becomes part of the majority of states that have hate crime bills signed into law. Meanwhile, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Wyoming are the remaining states without a hate crime law.

The bill received considerable backing and renewed importance following the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Brunswick, GA man who was killed during a run back in February 2020.

Arbery was the subject of a chase by two men who believed him to be a burglary suspect. Gregory and Travis McMichael allegedly cornered Arbery before a scuffle between him and Travis broke out. Travis, according to the GBI, shot Arbery.

The case received nationwide attention after video of the event, which was captured by a third man who has also been charged in connection with the case, leaked to social media.

Speaker David Ralston also spoke, calling the video of the Arbery slaying “sickening” and “disgusting.”

“When it comes to horrific moments like the barbaric slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, nothing we can say will alleviate the suffering of his mother, Mrs. Wanda Cooper Jones, but we can send the message that Georgia is better than what we saw,” Ralston said.

The McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who recorded the incident, have all been charged.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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