ATLANTA - Just 13 deaths after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia lawmakers have voted to strip citizen's arrest from state law. Arbery was gunned down in February 2020 by two men who claimed they were trying to execute a citizen's arrest. The House passed with a single "No" vote. Lawmakers have called the citizen's arrest law antiquated and no longer has a place in the state.
"It's just unbelievable. I never would've predicted that we would receive that kind of support and I think that it's just--makes me feel great because I think we were able to make people understand the difference between self-defense and citizen's arrest and why we do not need citizen's arrest," said State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta.
Lawmakers worked to change the statute after the tragic shooting death of Arbery in Brunswick.
Gregory McMichael (;eft), his son Travis McMichael and William Bryan (right).
The two men charged with Arbery's murder--Gregory and Travis McMichael--claimed they were trying to take Arbery into custody.
Under the legislation, only law enforcement officers have arrest powers. Though, it does allow for restaurant and shop owners to detain shoplifting and theft suspects for a short time until police can arrive.
Rep. Bert Reeves said the most touching part of the process has been talking with Arbery's mother as he worked on this legislation.
"As anybody can imagine, she's hurt and just in tremendous pain, but she has been so gracious with the work that we've done here on this in his honor and in his legacy and I hope that this is the agent of change that can change some things in Georgia and I'm just really, really glad that we got this done and I don't know that I've ever done, worked on anything down here that I'm more proud of than this," said Rep. Bert.
Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement shortly after lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday saying, in part:
"I look forward to signing it into law as we continue to send a clear message that the Peach State will not tolerate sinister acts of vigilantism in our communities."
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