SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Some change has come in the year since Ahmaud Arbery’s killing. Right now in the Georgia Statehouse, there’s bipartisan support for repealing the state’s citizen’s arrest statute.
Governor Brian Kemp sat down with WTOC to reflect on the one year anniversary of Arbery’s death. Kemp said he feels Arbery was a victim of vigilante-style violence that has no place in Georgia.
“It’s unthinkable that things like this happen, and they do,” said Kemp.
Kemp didn’t wait for the completion of the legal process surrounding Arbery’s death to take a clear, public stance against what happened. Kemp said despite the ongoing investigation, he felt it was appropriate to call for lawmakers to take action and eliminate what he calls antiquated, the Civil War era citizen’s arrest statute.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Kemp said. “What we saw in the Ahmaud Arbery case is not, you know... that’s not the state of Georgia I know. We’re better than that.”
Gov. Kemp, joined by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, unveiled the bill last week. The legislation clarifies when certain people, including off-duty law enforcement officers and businesses, can detain someone. The governor added that it does not take away any Georgian’s rights to defend themselves.
“It’s very reasonable,” Kemp said. “It will continue to protect people. But it will also prevent this modern-day vigilantism.”
Gov. Kemp said he has been in contact with Arbery’s family, and left a message for his mother. He said he’d like to have her speak to lawmakers at the Capitol, and share her perspective. Kemp also said as a father, it hurts him to see anyone lose a child. He has a message for Arbery’s entire family.
“I just continue to grieve and pray for them. But I also want them to know that we’re working hard to fix something that needed fixing a long time ago quite honestly. And we’re going to make that happen,” Kemp said.