Georgia Governor repeals citizen’s arrest law after killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By: Alyssa Wilson

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation Monday repealing the allowance of citizen’s arrests after Ahmaud Arbery was killed by three white men in 2020. 

RELATED: Ahmaud Arbery memorialized in Georgia a year after slaying

HB479 amends a law from the era of the Civil War which allowed residents to detain someone they thought committed a crime. Under the new legislation, private citizens cannot detain people. They are only allowed to use force if in self-defense or to prevent a “forcible felony” like murder or armed robbery, HuffPost reported. Business owners can continue to detain individuals they suspect of theft and then release them to law enforcement. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in March, the Georgia House voted unanimously and the Senate voted 51-1 to send the bill to Kemp’s desk. At the event signing, Kemp said the legislation is “replacing a Civil War-era law ripe for abuse.” He also mentioned the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. 

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was killed by three white men while jogging through a neighborhood in Georgia in February 2020. Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan chased Arbery down in a truck before shooting and killing him. They claim they were conducting a citizen’s arrest in the incident. 

RELATED: Suspects in Ahmaud Arbery killing indicted on federal hate crime 

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, joined Yodit Tewolde on “Making the Case w/ Yodit” to discuss the new legislation. “Ahmaud was killed because of hate,” she said. “It’s bittersweet that Ahmaud had to lose his life to get this type of change, but I’m very appreciative of it.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by racism and violence, resources are available for you here

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