ATLANTA — Georgia would have more leeway to pursue domestic terrorism cases if a state Senate bill becomes law.
In Georgia, criminal charges of domestic terrorism have been pretty rare – until recently.
When violence erupted Saturday in downtown Atlanta among folks protesting a new public safety training center, the seven arrested during the evening were charged with domestic terrorism, among other crimes. Five of them were from out of state. Domestic terrorism carries a penalty of up to 35 years in prison.
"Georgia has led the way on having terrorism laws on our books. However we have seen increasing violence. We’ve seen it from folks who are coming here from out of state most recently," said state Sen. John Albers (R-Sandy Springs), who is sponsoring a bill that would give the GBI a broader reach to investigate terrorism cases of all kinds – allowing the state agency to proactively work in local jurisdictions.
"If you think about something large scale such as terrorism, they’re going to very quickly transcend a city or a county boundary. They’ll likely go across multiple jurisdictions," Albers told 11Alive News.
It could include cases at the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center site – which which brushes jurisdictional boundaries just outside the Atlanta city limits in DeKalb County. That's where authorities made a half dozen more domestic terrorism cases against "Cop City" protesters last week.
Last year, Albers included the language in a bill that passed the Senate but never got a vote in the House. This year, Albers has streamlined the legislation, which he says is more timely than ever.
"It’s time to end this crime once and for all," he said.
And the domestic terrorism bill is sure to get attention this year - the legislation got assigned to a committee chaired by Sen. Albers.