Georgia Governor Repeals 1863 Citizen’s Arrest Law Ahead of Trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers

Written by Sìmone Stancil
Published on 12th May 2021

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse / Photo Credit: Sean Rayford / Stringer

 On Monday 10th May 2021, Governor Brian Kemp signed a repeal of Georgia’s 1863 citizen’s arrest law, which allowed bystanders to make an arrest if they witness an individual committing a crime. This legislation was passed a year after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes who suspected he committed a robbery. Following public outrage at Arbery’s death, Governor Kemp also signed the Georgia Anti-Hate Crimes Act, which implements harsher consequences for anyone who commits a crime against another person based on their race, gender and sexuality.

 This legislation continues to support Georgia’s ‘stand your ground’ law where business owners and security guards can detain an individual they suspect of stealing. However, it will now be illegal to forcibly detain an individual unless it is self-defence or they pose a danger of bodily harm against another person. This Civil-war era legislation was used to justify the kidnapping and lynching of Black people in the past. The white vigilantes involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, are facing murder charges. Two weeks ago, they pleaded not guilty and will be tried in court later this year.

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