Deputy Comms. Director
Statement on Citizen’s Arrest Reform
Feb. 17, 2021 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATLANTA-- Today, Gov. Brain Kemp (R-GA) announced a bi-partisan plan to address the antiquated citizen’s arrest statute in the state of Georgia, an issue championed by Georgia House Democrats long before a video was released this summer showing the heartless murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Since the release of the video, new energy across the state has formed in support of repealing and reforming the citizen’s arrest law in Georgia; a law which is tied to slave-owning and emboldened three men to hunt-down, and ultimately kill, Mr. Arbery in cold blood and broad daylight.
“I am proud of our members for advocating for a repeal of the citizen’s arrest law in Georgia. Laws like this propagate suspicion and violence between our neighbors– there is no place for that here in our state. I am additionally thankful that the Governor and other members of the Republican leadership have decided to join us on this important issue in order to protect our family members and community,” Leader Beverly (D-143) said while at the Capitol this afternoon. “I am hopeful that more Republican colleagues of ours will recognize how pressing the passage of this reform is, and will vote in the affirmative.”
At the beginning of the legislative session, Georgia House Democrats introduced the Healthy Georgia legislative agenda which focuses on four key areas of policy reform: Health, Education, Accountability, and Liberties. Reforming citizen’s arrest is a part of the Liberties section of the legislative agenda. It is joined by other legislative priorities that strengthen the civil liberties of our citizens, like requiring de-escalation training for law enforcement and ending the over-militarization of community police in our peaceful communities.
“The Citizens Arrest law in Georgia has a history that is deeply rooted in slavery and was used by private individuals to recapture slaves when they fled plantations. Because of its history, for the sake of Ahmaud Arbery, and for many other reasons, the Citizens Arrest law in Georgia needs to be repealed." explained Rep. Boddie (D-62). “It’s about time we made sure our laws in Georgia reflect that our state is now a diverse and free state."
“I have been a proud advocate for repealing the citizen’s arrest statute for many years and happy that the issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Reforming citizen’s arrest is a good first step towards repairing the deep-seated wounds and division in our communities, and I am pleased to be here to shepherd these reforms through to the Governor’s desk for signature. At the same time, we must recognize that much more work needs to be done to secure civil liberties in Georgia,” assured Rep. Gilliard (D-162). “The heartless murder of Ahmaud Arbery showed our state clearly how citizen’s arrest emboldens wannabe cops to act as cheap vigilanties, and corrodes any sembleance of law-and-order in Georgia.”
“The right of our sons and daughters to take a jog in their neighborhood should not be a black issue or white issue, not a blue issue or red issue. This is a human issue– one that should have been addressed a long time ago,” said Rep. Frazier (D-126). “Georgia House Democrats will continue to promote the right to live freely in our state– no matter how you look, or pray, or love. Because Georgia shouldn’t just be the number one state for a business; it should be the number one state to live well and be free too.”