Georgia Citizen’s Arrest Law Repealed After Ahmaud Arbery Killing

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on Monday (May 10) repealing a Civil war-era law that allowed “citizen’s arrests” as a response to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery last February. 

House Bill 479 revokes a law first enacted in 1863 that allowed ordinary citizens to detain someone they thought committed a crime. The new legislation prohibits “citizen’s arrest” and limits the use of force a private citizen can use on others to only self-defense of a “forcible felony” such as armed robbery or murder. 

The bill was first passed by the Georgia State House and Senate earlier this year and comes after three men were arrested and charged with murder after chasing and shooting Ahmaud Arbery while he jogged through a neighborhood last February. One of the men arrested captured the killing on cell phone video which eventually circulated social media and amplified demands for justice. It took more than two months for charges to be brought against the men. 

“One year ago a video shocked the world and sickened hearts,” Kemp said during a signing ceremony on Tuesday (May 11). The Republican governor said Ahmaud was a “victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in our country or our state.” 

On Friday (May 7), a judge set the trial date for the men accused of killing Arbery for October 18. 

Photo: Getty Images

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