Georgia is one of only a handful of states without hate crimes legislation. The new bill, if signed by the governor, would impose additional penalties for crimes motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said in a statement that the governor “commends the General Assembly’s bipartisan work and will sign House Bill 426 pending legal review.”
Advocates and lawmakers renewed their push to pass the bill after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man pursued by two white men and shot dead while jogging through a Brunswick neighborhood on February 23.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, cheered the decision in a statement through the Georgia NAACP. “My family thanks everyone for not letting my son’s death be in vain. I know he is still with us and this law is evidence of that and I look forward to being present when it is signed,” Cooper-Jones said.