Georgia Restricts Citizens Arrest Law Tied to 2020 Murder

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Georgia lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill gutting a Civil War-era law that allowed residents to arrest one another, a move championed by critics who said such laws have historically been used by white citizens to justify the killing of African-Americans, reports the New York Times. Republican governor Brian Kemp fully supported the bill and is expected to sign it into law, as he did last June with new hate crimes legislation. Both measures were inspired by the killing last year of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was chased and then gunned down by three white men in a coastal Georgia neighborhood. The bill that passed on Wednesday repeals the portion of the law that allows a private person to arrest someone if that person witnessed—or was told about—a crime, or if someone suspected of committing a felony is trying to escape. The bill carves out some exceptions for business owners, who can detain people on “reasonable grounds” if they are suspected of shoplifting or other thefts. Other exceptions apply to licensed private detectives and security guards. The Republican support for both bills are seen as moves by Kemp and the party to shore up support from conservative Black and white voters that have become estranged from the party and combat charges of racism before an impending election year

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