Tuesday July 7th, 2020 4:58AM

Police in, then out, as Georgia hate crimes bill moves ahead

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — In an abrupt turn, Republicans in the Georgia Senate removed protections for police from hate crimes legislation on Monday night, just days after adding them in over the objection of civil rights groups and Democrats.

First responders were removed as a protected class from the bill by the Senate Rules Committee after lawmakers said they struck a deal between parties.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with the minority party for the large part of two days and within our own Republican caucus and we’ve reached a compromise that I think everybody will be pleased with,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert of Athens, who introduced the change.

Calls for Georgia to remove itself from the list of four U.S. states without a hate crimes law have grown following the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man pursued and fatally shot near Brunswick, Georgia, in February. Three white men, including a father and son, are charged in his death. The calls have intensified further amid nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

Passed over a year ago by the state House, House Bill 426 would impose additional penalties for crimes motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

Many supporters of the bill were angered when Republicans added “status of being or having been a first responder” in committee on Friday. The ACLU and NAACP, as well as the state House and Senate Democratic caucuses were among those opposed to the bill with law enforcement included.

The Rev. James Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP, said in an interview earlier Monday that language protecting police was “toxic and a poison pill.”

State Sen. David Lucas, a Democrat from Macon, said Saturday on the Senate floor that it would be wrong to include police as a protected class amid protests over wrongdoing by law enforcement. “In a hate crime bill, that’s been brought on by incidents by police, and then to take them and put them in as a protected class ... I would never vote for it. Never,” Lucas said.

But Monday's changes seem likely to quell much of that opposition.

“I believe we’ll be recommending the bill to our caucus,” Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, a Democrat from Stone Mountain, said during the committee meeting Monday after first responders were removed.

In addition to removing first responders from the bill, senators added “sex” as a protected factor and limited the crimes that enhancements can be applied to. They also added data collection and reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies investigating hate crimes, something that Woodall and other proponents have called for.

The bill could soon move to the Senate floor for a vote. Time is running short, with the state’s legislative session set to wrap up Friday.

Proponents have tried for several years to get hate crimes legislation passed, after the Georgia Supreme Court in 2004 struck down a state hate crime statute for being too broad. But efforts have languished, with some conservatives cool to the idea. Some of that apprehension may still linger.

“I don’t want for a second to convey that I would support this as is on the floor by not opposing it here in this committee,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, a Republican from Carrollton. “I do have some questions and concerns about it.”

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Police in, then out, as Georgia hate crimes bill moves ahead
In an abrupt turn, Republicans in the Georgia Senate have removed protections for police from hate crimes legislation, just days after adding them in over the objection of civil rights groups and Democrats
9:27PM ( 3 minutes ago )
MLB plans 60-game slate, shortest since 1878 as union balks
Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878 after the players’ association rejected a negotiated deal of the same length, putting the sport on track for a combative and possibly unhappy return to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic
9:09PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Free 'Do the Right Thing' rental; Spike Lee talk offered
“Do the Right Thing” is free to rent on several platforms all week and an online discussion will be held with director Spike Lee on his 1989 film about racism, protests, police brutality and a New York neighborhood in turmoil
8:45PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump administration extends visa ban to non-immigrants
The Trump administration is extending a ban on green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and adding many temporary work visas to the freeze, including those used heavily by technology companies and multinational corporations
7:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
Medicare data: Blacks likelier to be hospitalized for COVID
The government says Blacks are nearly four times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19 among people with Medicare
7:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
Mail voting: Pence, aides embrace practice panned by Trump
Vice President Mike Pence and a half-dozen other senior advisers to President Donald Trump have repeatedly voted by mail, according to election records obtained by The Associated Press
7:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
House Democrats file bill nixing citizenship data-gathering
House Democrats are introducing a bill that would stop the Trump administration from gathering citizenship data through administrative records
3:49PM ( 5 hours ago )
In Minneapolis, talk of changing PD means taking on union
Talk of changing the Minneapolis Police Department is everywhere in the wake of George Floyd's death after an encounter with four officers
2:27PM ( 7 hours ago )
Black candidates tap protest energy to challenge Democrats
Amy McGrath and Eliot Engel live hundreds of miles apart in states with dramatically different politics
8:00AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Mourners pay respects to Rayshard Brooks at Ebenezer viewing
Mourners filed through Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday for a public viewing of Rayshard Brooks
7:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
Savannah mayor: Masks should be mandatory in public places
The number of people hospitalized in Georgia because of COVID-19 has risen to 1,000, erasing a month’s worth of progress in the state
5:15PM ( 4 hours ago )
Atlanta's Ebenezer prepares for Rayshard Brooks viewing
Mourners are lining up to pay their respects to Rayshard Brooks in a public viewing at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
2:33PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
MLB plans 60-game slate, shortest since 1878 as union balks
Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878 after the players’ association rejected a negotiated deal of the same length, putting the sport on track for a combative and possibly unhappy return to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic
9:09PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Free 'Do the Right Thing' rental; Spike Lee talk offered
“Do the Right Thing” is free to rent on several platforms all week and an online discussion will be held with director Spike Lee on his 1989 film about racism, protests, police brutality and a New York neighborhood in turmoil
8:45PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Blaney wins at Talladega after NASCAR unites behind Wallace
Ryan Blaney held onto the lead after a restart with two laps to go, earning his second straight win at Talladega Superspeedway on a day that began with NASCAR drivers throwing their support behind Bubba Wallace
8:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
NASCAR rallies around Wallace as FBI investigates noose
The FBI is investigating the discovery of a noose found in the Talladega Superspeedway garage stall of Bubba Wallace
8:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
NASCAR race begins after show of support for Bubba Wallace
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. edged Ryan Blaney to win the second stage of a rain-delayed race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama
8:11PM ( 1 hour ago )