“We have a great police force that is strong in its community engagement, that is highly accredited and well regarded, but you can’t rest on that,” she said. “You’ve got to make sure that (it’s about) what you’re doing today, not what you did yesterday.”
RELATED | Cobb takes stand on racism, hate crime law following heated debate
Cobb County and the cities of Acworth, Kennesaw and Smyrna have all passed resolutions denouncing racism. Powder Springs will take up its resolution at its meeting Monday. Around metro Atlanta, Doraville and Snellville have taken similar actions, and the city of Stone Mountain said it will petition the state to pass a hate crimes law.
Marietta's resolution calling on Georgia to pass a hate crimes law speaks to House Bill 426, which passed the House of Representatives last year and is awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. It could be considered by the Senate when lawmakers return next week to complete the legislative session that was suspended in March.
The legislation would provide sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.
Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said Georgia is one of four states with no hate crimes law. The other three states are South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming. Kelly said being among those four states is “not the company we want to keep,” and the legislation under consideration cuts across the spectrum of hate.
“This is something for all Georgians, and I’d like to see our state legislature pass this law,” she said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters J.D. Capelouto, Amanda Coyne and Maya Prabhu contributed to this article.