AME Church to Pressure Georgia Lawmakers to Adopt Hate Crime Legislation

Leaders of a historically black church denomination are planning to put some pressure on Georgia lawmakers Monday, urging them to pass a hate crimes law.

Georgia is one of only four in the nation that does not have a hate crimes law. It had one 20 years ago, but the Georgia Supreme Court struck it down in 2004 saying it was too vague. Now there’s additional pressure for lawmakers to pass a new one.

One group applying that pressure is the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Monday is “AME Day” at the state capitol.

CBS46 recently spoke with the AME bishop for the Atlanta region, Reginald T. Jackson. He pointed to a recent incident in Hall County as a reason why Georgia needs a hate crimes law, which would add penalties for people convicted of targeting victims based on certain protected categories such as race.

Investigators in Gainesville said they stopped a 16 year-old white girl from following through with her plans to go on a stabbing spree at a predominately black AME Church in Gainesville.

Bishop Jackson says without a hate crimes law, there’s no way to measure whether hate crimes are increasing or decreasing.

“It’s important that the faith community rise to the occasion and speak to this issue,” said Bishop Jackson. “I think politicians, if you don’t pressure them in any way, they don’t act and they don’t respond.”

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Source: CBS46