Faith leaders demand Georgia lawmakers pass hate crime bill

ATLANTA — For the last week, protesters and marchers have been on the streets demanding change.

A group of faith leaders across Georgia say now is the time for lawmakers to pass the hate crime bill.

The leaders gathered virtually on Thursday and the conceded the bill isn’t perfect but say it’s still necessary.

Georgia is one of only four states without a hate crime law. One version of a bill passed the state House before they left in March because of the coronavirus.

It doesn’t create a new hate crime statute, but instead brings stiffer penalties for any crime a jury determines was motivated by hate.

The faith leaders call it a good first step.

“This bill would cover any of the categories of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disabilities, physical disabilities. Now is the time for Georgia to pass hate crimes legislation,” said Ikon Community Church leader Darryl Ford.


Many have marched in the last week calling for action by lawmakers.

“It’s not fair to be judged by a skin color. This nation is based on freedom and there’s no freedom in this system at all. You want this stop? Yes, I do,” said protester Regine Cook.

Tony Lankford, pastor of First Baptist Church of St. Simons’ Island, says now is the time to pass hate crime legislation.

“You have a responsibility to the citizens of Georgia and an opportunity to make Georgia a better place to live for all generations to come,” Lankford said.

The state legislature is set to return to the capitol and get back into session on June 15.