Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed a repeal of Georgia’s Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law.
The repeal of the law comes a year after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man pursued by white men who said they suspected him of a crime.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, says she is “very thankful” that the law had been repealed.
“I think the signing of this bill will make people think before they take action into their own hands,” Cooper-Jones said. “Unfortunately, we had to lose my son in this manner. Had this bill been in place, I think it will protect young men as they are jogging down the street.”
The 1863 law was created to catch escaped slaves.
“This bill makes Georgia the first state in the country to repeal its citizen’s arrest statute,” Kemp said. “Today, we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right to self-defense of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward.”
A prosecutor assigned to Arbery’s case used the citizen’s arrest law to justify Greg and Travis McMichael shooting and killing Arbery. The father and son were arrested two months after killing Arbery.
Under the new law, deadly force cannot be used to detain someone unless it’s in preventing a forcible felony, self-protection, or protecting a home.