Posted on May 14, 2021

In Ahmaud Arbery’s Name, Georgia Repeals Citizen’s Arrest Law

Emma Hurt, NPR, May 11, 2021

About a year after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery became national news, and nearly 15 months after he was shot while jogging down a street, Georgia has repealed the vague law being used to defend the men charged with murder in his killing.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the overhaul he championed at the Georgia Capitol on Monday, alongside a bipartisan group of state lawmakers as well as Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, and sister, Jasmine Arbery.


At the ceremony, Kemp said, “This bill makes Georgia the first state in the country to repeal its citizen’s arrest statute.”

“Today we are replacing a Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right to self-defense of a person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward,” he said.

The law, which allowed any citizen to “arrest” another if a crime was committed “within his immediate knowledge,” has been replaced with specific language to provide for citizen detainment in specific circumstances, including shopkeepers who witness shoplifters and restaurant owners and employees who witness “dine and dash” customers.

The men accused in Arbery’s killing have said they thought Arbery had committed a burglary when they chased him through a neighborhood near Brunswick {snip}

It marks the second Georgia law to change in a bipartisan manner following Arbery’s death. The state General Assembly passed a hate crimes statute last summer in Arbery’s name.


The bill’s signing comes as state and federal charges against the three men involved in Arbery’s death, Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, are moving forward.