Ahmaud Arbery was killed while out jogging. “To me, this was clearly a hate crime,” says Mr. Arbery’s mother. “But Georgia is one of four states in the country without a hate crime law.” https://t.co/2hPtPDLsRP pic.twitter.com/wDEt1hH5cu— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) June 9, 2020
Ahmaud Arbery's mother is calling out the glaring issue with the lack of hate-crime law in Georgia. Wanda Cooper-Jones knows that passing a law will not bring back her son, but in a video with the New York Times, she opened up about why arresting the men who killed her 25-year-old son simply isn't enough. Georgia is one of the four states that does not have a hate-crime law (along with Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming), and when her son went jogging in February like it was any ordinary day, he was killed because of the color of his skin. If there was a bias crime law in the state of Georgia, the men arrested for killing Ahmaud would also be charged for targeting him because he's Black.
"Yes, Ahmaud's murderers were arrested and hopefully they will be thrown behind bars," Wanda said in the video. "So why do we even need a hate-crime law? Because it will show that targeting someone because of their race is unacceptable." Lawmakers in Georgia have been on hiatus since March because of coronavirus, but as they plan to go back into session later this month, Wanda is asking senators to vote on the bill that would bring more severe sentencing for hate crimes. "To have this law passed in the memory of Ahmaud wouldn't bring him back, but it would mean so much to me that him leaving me did change something," she said.
"When he left our home for a jog, I never thought that I needed to be worried."
Wanda explained that she often spoke to her son about racial injustices and they had those conversations about race at a young age, but she never thought that something he enjoyed doing every day would take him from her. "I know that prejudice and racism did exist in the place that I chose home. I had to explain to Ahmaud that he will be sometimes disliked because of the color of his skin, but when he left our home for a jog, I never thought that I needed to be worried," she said. "Ahmaud wasn't killed because he was doing a crime, so why would he have been targeted if it wasn't just for hate?"
As people across the globe protest against the killing of Black men and women like Ahmaud, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, it's imperative that Georgia, as well as the other three states, pass hate-crime laws. Watch Wanda's video for the New York Times above, and find out how to fight against racial injustices now and moving forward here.