State Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) announced Wednesday that she has pre-filed new hate crime legislation for the coming session of the Georgia General Assembly, which convenes next week.
Hanson held a press conference along with Allison Padilla-Goodman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, along with several law enforcement officials.
While Hanson said her bill's final details are still being ironed out, she said the law is needed to combat “an increase in the resurgence of tribal-based animosities that are motivated solely by group relationships over the past year.
Georgia is one of just five states in the nation that does not protect its citizens against hate crimes, according to Padilla-Goodman.
"Hate crimes are different from ordinary criminal activity: the effects of hate crimes are felt well beyond the immediate victim," she said. "Hate crimes are felt by entire communities, and when they are not adequately addressed, entire communities feel isolated, disenfranchised, unsafe, and threatened."
“Attacks that are motivated by hate for a group are different from typical crimes aimed at individual targets, and they are designed to create fear among those people in that group and oppress the entire community,” Hanson said.
Hanson cited recent attacks in New York, Texas, Virginia and Georgia, including an incident last year in Douglasville where two people were sentenced to jail after being convicted of yelling racial slurs at a group of people celebrating a child's birthday party.
“This bill will provide our law enforcement officials the tools to combat those who intend to harm the liberty of others,” she said. “It will provide police with the training and guidance to investigate crimes of hate.”