Rep. Gilliard discusses bill that replaced Ga.’s citizen’s arrest law, what’s next for upcoming session

Rep. Carl Gilliard
Rep. Carl Gilliard(Georgia General Assembly)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 4:24 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - On the day of the sentencing in the murder trial of Ahmad Arbery, State Representative Carl Gilliard reflects on the case, and Georgia’s old law that allowed citizens arrests - a law that was repealed as a result of Arbery’s murder.

On May 10, 2021, Governor Kemp signed a bill that repealed and replaced Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law. The changes prevent citizens from be able to make arrests, overhauling the previous law that dates back to 1863. State Representative Carl Gilliard of Garden City was a sponsor of the bill, and says it likely played a large role in convicting the men charged with killing Arbery.

“When you think about it, in 1863, the law was made right after reconstruction to basically lynch people legally, to give them a legal way to lynch them. That was the first thing that came out of their mouth that this was a citizen’s arrest, hoping that that would justify the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. So, I think we played a big role moving forward,” said Rep. Gilliard.

Gilliard says there’s a follow-up bill for this upcoming session, called the Georgia Public Safety Act, which would further detail the part of the current law that allows business owners to hold people accused of a crime until police arrive.

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