Gov. Brian Kemp and Rev. James Woodall, State President of the Georgia NAACP
ATLANTA–The Georgia NAACP and the mother of Ahmaud Arbery are condemning Gov. Brian Kemp for signing into law HB838, also referred to as the “Police Hate Crimes Bill.” Kemp signed the hate-crimes legislation into law on Friday, June 26.
The bill is a compromise that state lawmakers brokered with bipartisan support after years of debate.
“It’s a sign of progress and it’s a milestone worth applauding,” said Kemp “Frankly, it’s the silver lining in these difficult times and stormy days.”
The Georgia NAACP said the law puts the murders of Black people in juxtaposition with that of law enforcement officers.
“The bill creates enhanced penalties for people who target law enforcement and other first responders. It also includes a “false misconduct” provision that allows police officers to sue for false misconduct claims. This would be a deterrent for persons to file legitimate claims of misconduct,” the NAACP said in a statement on June 26.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, said the bill does not do justice for her son who was fatally shot after three white men cornered him as he jogged through a white community in South Georgia.
“Though we stand in full support of all law enforcement, we believe that HB838 is more dangerous to our community than HB426 is good. To see the Legislature prioritize HB 838 instead of repealing citizens arrest is heartbreaking and does not do justice for my son.”
The Rev. James Woodall, State President of the Georgia NAACP, said the legislation fuels violence against Blacks.
“This compromise in the political process will forever ring throughout history as a signal that Black lives are a bargaining chip toward a political end and dead, black bodies are a expendable commodity in the halls of legislative power,” said Woodall.
The Georgia NAACP said it remains open to continued dialogue between Gov. Kemp, Lieutenant Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston to ensure that there is a robust legislative package in January that addresses codified racism and will move Georgia in a direction that all people will be protected.