ATLANTA — The Georgia House passed a bill Wednesday that would prevent local governments from reducing funding to law enforcement.
Republicans say it prevents counties or cities from defunding the police while Democrats say it really takes control of law enforcement out of local hands.
Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot was at the state Capitol where there was some passionate debate on the bill.
Republicans say they’re worried about local governments defunding police. Democrats say this is more about Republicans getting reelected.
After the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and others, protestors took the streets of Atlanta and other cities calling for a defunding of law enforcement.
Wednesday, the Georgia House passed a bill that would prevent local governments from doing just that.
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“We feel that protecting public safety, keeping our families safe is of utmost importance,” said state Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Clarke County.
Gaines authored the bill and told Elliot it’s about protecting citizens.
“We’ve seen calls to defund the police in Athens and Atlanta, and we can’t let that happen in our state, so this is an important measure that’s going to keep our families safe,” Gaines said.
Decatur Democrat Renitta Shannon believes the bill is just a way for Republicans to energize their own base and fails to take into account fears in minority communities of law enforcement.
“So Republicans, you can continue to run these weird PR campaigns if you want to. Democrats will continue to press for justice,” Shannon said.
Macon Democrat James Beverly told Elliot that all the bill does is wrest local control of police from local governments and believes it would not survive a legal challenge.
“It’s going to go to court, and in the courts, local governments, if they hold the constitution up, they have a fight to say we get to set up our own budget. Y’all can’t do that in the General Assembly,” Beverly said.
There have been proposals to defund the police in Athens and in Atlanta in the last few months. Both city councils rejected them.
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