Jun 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia passes bipartisan hate crimes bill

A person in a T shirt holds a sign that reads: "I run with Ahmaud"
Protesters in Brunswick, Georgia on June 4 after a court appearance by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who were arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Georgia's legislature voted 127-38 on Tuesday to pass a bill requiring police officers to document when someone is subjected to a hate crime on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion or national origin.

The big picture, via the Wall Street Journal: Georgia has been weighing the passage of a hate crimes law for two decades.

  • The version passed Tuesday had been stalled in the state senate since March 2019, per the WSJ.
  • The bipartisan effort comes on the heels of countrywide police reform fueled by Black Lives Matter protests, some of which called for justice for Georgia resident Ahmaud Arbery.

Details: The bill also increases prison sentencing for hate crimes. If someone is convicted of a misdemeanor, they will be sentenced to prison for 6-12 months and not fined over $5,000.

  • If someone is convicted of a felony, they will be sentenced for at least two years and not fined under $5,000.

Driving the news: Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault in May for Arbery's death on February 23 in Glynn County, Georgia, which was captured on an alleged cellphone video.

What's next: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) commended the bipartisan push behind the bill on Tuesday and said he plans to sign it, pending a legal review, per his office.

Go deeper: Hate crimes reached a 16-year high in 2018, per FBI report

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