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Ga. representatives introduce bill repealing citizen’s arrest law

File Photo: Georgia State Legislature (Source: WTOC)
File Photo: Georgia State Legislature (Source: WTOC)(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 1:51 PM CDT
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Several Georgia representatives are going to introduce a bill that would repeal the citizen’s arrest law in the state.

State Representatives Carl Gilliard (D- Garden City), Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta), Don Hogan (R-St. Simon’s Island), William Boddie (D-East Point) and Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert) announced their plans Thursday to introduce the legislation. A news conference will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at the Chatham County Courthouse in Savannah.

“This legislation’s focus is to prevent civilians from taking the law into their own hands,” Rep. Gilliard, who is the author of the bill, said in a statement. “Our citizen’s arrest law was created in 1863, and this law is clearly outdated as it was formed in the fashion of the Wild West. When individuals lose their lives at the hands of civilians that become judge and jury, we must use the power of the pen to move Georgia forward.”

The proposed bill has been filed already and will be up for consideration on June 15 when the legislative session begins.

The law entered the spotlight after Ahmaud Arbery’s death. The video of Arbery’s final moments has started a conversation about change in Georgia’s laws after two of the three men charged in Arbery’s death claim they were conducting a citizen’s arrest.

"We cannot bring Arbery back, but as we move forward, we can say never again that this can happen,” Rep. Gilliard said.

Currently the law allows a citizen to arrest an offender if an offense is committed in his or her presence or within his or her immediate knowledge.

Rep. Gilliard calls it something out of the "Wild Wild West."

"We cannot be judge and jury,” Rep. Gilliard said.

The bill has support from both sides, Rep. Gilliard saying that's a huge feat, but also shows politics shouldn't play a part in passing the bill.

"There should not be a lot of talking about it. It's time! It's time!"

Rep. Gilliard said the bill could become an attachment to the Hate Crime Bill sitting in the Senate or added as an amendment to another bill. It could also be pushed to 2021.

Georgians could play a big part in getting this bill passed. Some lawmakers are asking residents to call their representatives to push to get the citizen’s arrest law repealed.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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