The Jolt: Democrats push ‘stand your ground’ repeal despite tepid GOP support

07/24/2020 - Augusta, Georgia - Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, sits for a portrait at Pendleton King Park in Augusta, Friday, July 24, 2020. On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick. Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64 are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
07/24/2020 - Augusta, Georgia - Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, sits for a portrait at Pendleton King Park in Augusta, Friday, July 24, 2020. On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick. Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64 are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Spurred by the tragedy of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death, Democrats and civil rights advocates compiled a wish list of criminal justice initiatives to help prevent another injustice.

At the top of the list was a restoration of Georgia’s hate-crimes statute, which was adopted by lawmakers in 2020 and signed into law after years of bickering. Next up is an overhaul of the Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law, which Gov. Brian Kemp backs with bipartisan support.

But one initiative that hasn’t been embraced yet by GOP leadership is a rollback of “stand your ground,” which permits people to say they acted in self-defense and had no duty to retreat during a confrontation with someone else.

A group of House Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday to repeal the measure, which state Rep. Bee Nguyen called a “back-door policy that enables escalation of violence, especially against Black victims.”

State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, called the citizen’s arrest overhaul a “good start” but said lawmakers should consider a more comprehensive package.

“Lady Justice is more and more forgetting her blindness. She had a habit of peeping from under the mask and determining based on who was standing before her, but we’re getting closer to properly masking her.”

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The Athens-Clarke County Commission continues to be among the most progressive government bodies in the state.

The commission voted Wednesday to apologize for acts of “institutionalized white racism and terrorism” committed by Athens officials and the University of Georgia in the 1960s when authorities seized property in the Black community of Linnentown. The land grab allowed for the development of high-rise dormitories like Russell and Creswell halls.

From Athens Politics Nerd:

This happened “through intimidation, weaponized code enforcement, inequitable property value judgments, controlled demolition by fires, forced tenancy and rent, tokenized Black representation, invasions of financial privacy and paternalistic relocation policies," which caused Linnentown to be “effectively erased without a trace by the City of Athens and the University System of Georgia," as stated in the resolution.

The passage of this resolution represents the culmination of more than a year of effort by former Linnentown residents and other community members trying to have their trauma and loss recognized by the institutions who perpetrated it almost 60 years ago.

- Athens Politics Nerd

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Georgia is well represented on the Time Magazine Next 100 list. U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are among the honorees, along with Nse Ufot, the head of the New Georgia Project.

Warnock was also spotted in the highly touted PBS documentary, “The Black Church.” Filmed before his election to the Senate, he shared the story of Prathia Hall, a woman whose “I have a dream” vision helped inspire Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech at the March on Washington.

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POSTED: Doug Collins has launched his trial balloon regarding a possible run for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022.

“We’ve got a good background. People in the state know us,” Collins told your Insider. “Am I open to considering a run for the Senate or governor? Yes.”

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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson will add his name to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP and Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson accusing former President Donald Trump and his supporters of being responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The lawsuit also names Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, saying they all conspired to disrupt the tally of Electoral College votes. This amounts to an attempt to negate the votes of black voters, a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, the suit alleges.

“The Big Lie that Trump told to incite the insurrectionists was based on the alleged theft of votes in places like Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee,” Johnson, D-Lithonia, wrote in a statement about becoming a plaintiff. “This is where black voters are, and he wanted to supposedly ‘stop the steal’ — incentivizing his people to go attack based on them thinking that Black folks had taken something from them.”

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Under the Gold Dome (Legislative Day 19):

  • 7:00 a.m.: House and Senate committee meetings begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House convenes;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate gavels in.

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A state Senate subcommittee voted 3 to 2 to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia Wednesday. The vote came at a 7 a.m. meeting, which was not live streamed, to the consternation of Democrats.

Since your Insiders are history buffs, we went back to check the votes when the state Senate originally passed the 2005 law that created no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, as well as the 2008 vote to approve clarifying language. Both passed with the support of several GOP lawmakers you’d recognize, including then-senator for the 48th district and now chair of the Georgia Republican Party, David Shafer.

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Georgia’s RNC Committeeman Jason Thompson has been tapped by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to serve on the new “Election Integrity Committee.”

Thompson said he looked forward to “representing Georgia Republicans at such an important time in our nation’s history as we work to restore confidence in ballot security and election transparency.”

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A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s popularity is limited despite the national headlines generated when she was stripped of her committees.

Nine percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Rome Republican, 38% view her unfavorably and 52% have no opinion. Asked about removing her from U.S. House committees, and 44% approve, 30% disapprove and 25% had no opinion.

The poll of 1,056 U.S. adults nationwide was conducted last week.

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In the Senate hopper Wednesday, courtesy of our resident hopper checker Maya T. Prabhu, was S.R. 116, a resolution to honor our longtime Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague Gracie Bond Staples.

Staples, a veteran columnist, took a well-earned retirement last month after a 40-year career in newspapers, including 20 years with the AJC.

State Sens. Valencia Seay, Nan Orrock, Gail Davenport and others introduced the resolution commending Staples as “a remarkable citizen (who) has established a glowing reputation of renown throughout Georgia for her dedication and high ideals.”

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