In a moment of restorative justice Monday, Georgia legislators in the state House of Representatives voted to eliminate a Civil War-era statute that gave citizens the right to arrest someone they suspected of committing a crime. This is what the suspects who are charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery are using as their defense.
House Bill 479 passed unanimously with a 173-0 vote in the House, proof that Georgia is indeed changing.
Mondays vote came with mixed emotions because just as this was seen as a victory, there were some defeats in terms of voter suppression laws being enacted. Limits were placed on mail-in votes which were successful in changing Georgia from a red to a blue state during the last election cycle.
Tuesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced reforms to the citizen’s arrest laws so that there will not be more Ahmaud Arbery’s, where the laws would be cited, initially, as cause to not pursue charges against those who killed him.
“Ahmaud was a victim of vigilante-style of violence that has no place in Georgia,” said Kemp. “And some tried to justify the actions of his killers by claiming they had the protection of an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse.”
Not only are they outdated, the citizen’s arrest laws are a throwback to slave patrols, vigilantism and racialized violence of the early centuries of America.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones, told a local news station she was “overwhelmed” and “happy” with news of the vote.
According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the bill will now move on to the Senate for vote. If it passes, Georgia will be the first state to have repealed its citizens arrest laws.