Atlanta City Council Votes To Ban Citizens' Arrests After Deaths Of Kenneth Herring And Ahmaud Arbery
Following the death of her son Ahmaud Arbery, Wanda Cooper Jones said the resolution is a step toward justice for many Georgians.
October 13, 2020 at 1:27 am
The Atlanta City Council has requested the state of Georgia revoke legislation that allows private citizens to arrest someone they suspect of committing a crime.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the city council approved a resolution in a 14-1 vote last week that contends citizens' arrests that encourages racial and cultural biases, disproportionately affecting Black Americans.
According to Georgia’s current legislation on citizen arrests, “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
Arbery was killed by Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, who told investigators they thought Arbery fit the description of a man suspected of robbing homes in the area. After Arbery crossed paths with the McMichaels on Feb. 23, video of the horrifying shooting sparked a public outcry that has resulted in mass protests and legislation reform.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, told CBS 46 in Atlanta that the resolution won’t bring her son home but she appreciates what it means for the safety of many other Georgians.
"The days are getting a little harder now. I do expect that someday that Ahmaud will return home after a jog, but unfortunately that’s never going to happen,” Cooper Jones said.
“Anything that can help the citizens of the state of Georgia to be more protected from those type crimes is much needed and much appreciated, '' she added.
HB1203 also refers to the death of Kenneth Herring, a 62-year-old Black man who was killed in 2019 after he was involved in a car crash in Clayton County.
A 21-year-old white woman stalked Herring and cut him off at an intersection before fatally shooting him in the abdomen. Police Detective Keon Hayward testified that Hannah Payne called 911 and said Herring shot himself with her gun, according to The Clayton News-Daily.
21yo expected back in Clayton Co court after interfering with a hit and run, chasing driver involved and blocking him in.
Hannah Payne faces a felony charge of murder.
She's accused of shooting 62yo Kenneth Herring, her attorney says, in self defense during a struggle. pic.twitter.com/4mkLEbu3R2
— Kaitlyn Pratt (@Fox5Kaitlyn) May 28, 2019
Police said they instructed Payne not to pursue Herring. She now faces two counts of felony murder and is awaiting trial.
Councilwoman Andrea Boone told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that residents have long called for city officials to repeal the state’s citizens' arrest law.
“I think it was necessary that we make a statement,” Boone said.
Buckhead Councilman Howard Shook, the only councilperson to vote against the measure, said he feels the timing of the motion is off.
“I wish we were in an environment where I can support this measure,” Shook said. “But we are not.”
According to CBS 46, although the resolution was approved, lawmakers are on recess until 2021 and no movement can happen on HB1203 until they are called back into session.
Despite the anticipated break, city officials are working to bring social justice issues to the table amid pressure from national protests and local activists.
Last week, councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet called for local politicians to join her in efforts to prevent people from being discriminated against at work because of their choice of hairstyle, Fox 5 reports.
Collier Overstreet’s movement seeks to bring to light natural hairstyles, historically suppressed by mainstream corporate culture, and add hairstyle guidelines to state anti-discrimination laws.
A city union leader said ambiguity regarding hairstyles in the workplace contributes to the oppression of those who don’t conform to traditional styles.
"I have been called to represent several women who were told by their supervisors that their hair was unprofessional,” PACE Union President Gina Pagnotta Murphy said. “But who decides that?"
Additionally, on Oct. 5, the city council approved legislation to organize an Equitable Growth Program that creates and attracts “high-quality, middle-wage jobs,” Atlanta InTown reports. The plan is predicated on projects that are considered beneficial to all people living in Atlanta and targets the hiring of residents who are unemployed or in low-wage jobs.