Bill that would crack down on antisemitism advances in Georgia House

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

A Georgia House committee approved a bill Tuesday that targets crimes against Jewish people and threatening antisemitic imagery such as swastikas.

The measure defines antisemitism so that it would be included under Georgia’s hate crimes law, and it would prohibit using swastikas with the intent to terrorize another person.

The effort to provide legal protections for Jewish people comes after antisemitic flyers were found in the driveways of some predominantly Jewish neighborhoods earlier this month.

“These are despicable acts. It’s hatred, and it must stop,” said state Rep. John Carson, a Republican from Marietta and the sponsor of House Bill 30.

The House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly passed the measure, with a dissenting vote from state Rep. Roger Bruce, a Democrat from Atlanta.

Bruce said other communities also need protections after swastikas, racial slurs and graffiti defaced Atlanta’s Providence Missionary Baptist Church this month.

“I am not for anyone being harassed, anyone going through this in your community or mine,” Bruce said. “I’m just trying to understand how this is worse for you than it is for me because I don’t see it that way. I see this being just as hateful, just as horrible.”

Carson responded that prohibitions on terroristic usage of swastikas apply to everyone, not just Jewish people.

If the bill passes, illegal use of swastikas would be punishable as a misdemeanor unless there’s also a death threat involved, in which case it would be a felony.

Georgia’s hate crimes law, which was enacted in 2020, allows harsher criminal penalties against those who target their victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability. HB 30 would add antisemitism as evidence of discriminatory intent under the hate crimes law.

The legislation could soon receive a vote in the full Georgia House of Representatives.