March 31, 2021 The Georgia NAACP fully commends the state’s full repeal of its citizen’s arrest statute from 1863, making Georgia the first state in the nation's history to repeal such an archaic, racist law.
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Atlanta, GA - The Georgia NAACP commends state lawmakers for repealing Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which it and other civil rights groups had strongly lobbied for following the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery early last year.
The new legislation, House Bill 479, was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate and signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. It ends the ability for most private persons to arrest someone they suspect of committing a crime, and makes Georgia the first state to remove a citizen’s arrest statute from its books. Versions of the law vary in the majority of states where it is on the books.
Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute of 1863, which is rooted in a history of racism, had allowed a private person to arrest an offender if the offense was committed “in his presence or within his immediate knowledge.” It faced renewed criticism after it was cited by a prosecutor last year to justify not charging three white men involved in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed, 25-year-old Black man who had been out jogging near Brunswick, GA.
The new law restricts the ability to detain someone suspected of committing a crime to business owners and employees, security officers, private investigators, and weight inspectors, along with law enforcement officers of any jurisdiction. Deadly force or force likely to cause great bodily harm cannot be used to detain someone except in cases of self-defense, protecting a home, or preventing a forcible felony.
House Bill 479 was a product of work by the Georgia NAACP, the Southern Center for Human Rights, members of the JustGeorgia Coalition, the Arbery family and Brunswick community, and a bipartisan coalition of state legislators.
### About The Georgia NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has had an unbroken presence in Georgia since 1917. The Georgia NAACP maintains a network of units throughout Georgia, from cities to small rural counties. The Georgia NAACP has been the most effective and consistent advocate for African American civil rights in Georgia. You can read more about the Georgia NAACP’s work and mission at naacpga.org.