CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. — The killing of Ahmaud Arbery has sparked protests in south Georgia and protesters rallying with some Georgia lawmakers say its time to remove citizens arrest laws.
The Georgia citizens arrest laws have been part of state law for 160 years, but critics say they were created in a time when the state did not have extensive law enforcement.
“It’s from the days of the wild, Wild West,” State Rep. Carl Gilliard said on Friday.
Two of the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery claim they were trying to make a citizens arrest. They suspected Arbery of breaking into neighborhood homes. Prosecutors say he was simply out for a job and suddenly found himself being chased and cornered.
“When you are 20 years old and individuals are blocking you in with cars, that’s called hunting,” Gilliard said.
Current Georgia law allows anyone, under limited circumstances, to try and detain someone who they see or know has committed a crime. Critics say the law is sometimes used as an excuse for street justice.
“This proposed bill will not only help mediate conflicts but move Georgia forward,” said Pastor Damion Gordon.
Arbery’s mother says this and man other changes being pushed after her son’s death means at least something good is coming out of what happened to him.
“He would be relieved. He would be proud, for one, that his story is being told. His story will probably implement chage. He would be pleased at this moment,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones.
The proposal has a tough road ahead to be passed this year. Lawmakers have just a few day left in this legislative session when they return to the state Capitol.
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