written by Gloria Tatum………………………………………………….
The NAACP marched from the Richard Russell Federal Building to the Georgia State Capitol to demand that lawmakers repeal several laws, pass other bills, reform the police, and fix voting in Georgia.
Community leaders and lawmakers spoke on many issues including police and criminal justice reform, fixing the broken election system, repeal Citizens’ Arrest, Stand Your Ground Laws, support HB 636, SB283, and SB288 but oppose SB 463.
“We are going to take over that capitol every single day until they do their job. If they don’t pass those bills we are going to fill up the jail cells because we are going to shut it down,” Rev, James Woodall, President of Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), promised.
Thousands of black, brown, white, young, old, gay, and straight people gathered to march with the NAACP to the State Capitol to demand an end to decades of police killings of unarmed Black people, and to fix the electoral failures of June 9th.
“We are grateful that this is a multicultural gathering,” Rev. Jamal Bryant, Senior Pastor, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, said.
“Since 1800 there has been a law on Georgia books that you can arrest runaway slaves and in 2020 it’s still on the books. I want the Georgia State House to know that all the runaway slaves are coming to the state capitol today because these are not House Negros these are people who want to be free. I believe the constitution ought to represent all of America,” Rev. Bryant said.
This year’s General Assembly is not going to be “business as usual” because the people are angry and they are sick and tired of white supremacists passing oppressive bills that hurt the people. Get ready for a change for it is coming regardless if elected officials are ready or not.
“We have a legislature that is not representative of the people in this community or in this state. They use voter suppression to keep it that way. We are going to march and fight for better voting practices and fight at the ballot box in November,” Andrea Young, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU) promised.
The Latino Community stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement because they too are “done dying.”
“We commit to holding all politicians at every level of government accountable,” Jerry Gonzales, Executive Director of Georgia Association of County Elected Officials (GALEO) promised.
REPEAL CITIZEN’S ARREST, STAND YOUR GROUND LAWS & QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
“We have racism and white supremacy on the books in Georgia’s official code,” Rev. Woodall said.
He was referring to Georgia’s antiquated Citizen’s Arrest statute that goes back to 1866 that allowed citizens to capture runaway slaves and was used this year to justify vigilantes who chased down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.
In Florida, George Zimmerman used Stand Your Ground to justify murdering a 17- year- old boy, Trayvon Martin, who was walking home holding a bag of Skittles and a cup of ice tea.
These two laws, Citizen’s Arrest and Stand Your Ground, allow, “white supremacists and vigilantes to chase down black and brown people and shoot them in the back in the guise of fear. White supremacists do not get to decide who should live and who should die. And when they do they need to be charged with murder and locked up,” State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) said to the crowd at the Russell Federal Building.
People are sick and tired of these racist laws that are used to kill Black and Brown people and want them repealed now.
Qualified Immunity is a federal law that protects the police from prosecution. The Supreme Court has codified this law twice in the last ten years. The Supreme Court needs to repeal Qualified Immunity because it often puts the police above the law.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a 2018 dissenting opinion calls qualified immunity an “absolute shield” for police officers accused of excessive force.
PASS HB 636 Use of Force Bill; SB 283 Election Day a Holiday; SB 288 Expunge Bill & HB 426 Hate Crime Bill
The NAACP wants lawmakers to pass HB 636 to create a statewide database to document the use of excessive force by police officers.
“Mandatory tracking of police use of force on a database would allow you to know if an officer has repeated complaints against him. If an officer gets fired from one place, you may not want to hire him at another police department,” State Rep. Renitta Shannon (D-Decatur) told the Streets of Atlanta.
Senator Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) introduced SB 283 to make election day a state holiday. “The bill still sits in committee. We have three confederate holidays and I want one of them for election day. We are going to fight to make it easy for everyone to vote,” Senator Anderson said.
Anderson also sponsored SB 288 a bill to broaden Georgia’s criminal record expungement law.
“We demand justice and criminal justice reform. Out of 11 million Georgians, 4.2 million have a criminal record [for]a simple misdemeanor that needs to be removed from their record. If people can’t get a job, if they can’t go to work or go to school they are tied to a system that keeps them down. I will fight for SB 288,” Senator Anderson promised.
Hate crimes are on the rise and Georgia is one of only four states that don’t have a Hate Crime Bill. But HB426 may not be the legislation to end systemic racism in the judicial system or to hold law enforcement accountable when they kill. This bill needs more work.
OPPOSE SB 463 IT WOULD MAKE ELECTIONS WORST
Oppose SB 463 it would make it easier for mail-in ballots to be rejected and decrease the number of voting machines and increase extremely long lines.
“Voter suppression in the State of Georgia is the absolute worst in the country.
We oppose SB 463 that limits our ability as citizens to exercise our right to vote,” Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta Hawks Head Coach, said at the NAACP march to the Capitol.
“Vote no on SB 463 doesn’t offer any resolution to anything we saw on Tuesday. It does not shorten lines, it doesn’t fix votes by mail, it doesn’t get more poll workers, it is a band-aid,” Wanda Mosley of Black Votes Matter, said.
“You [ Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State] knew since last year those machines had issues but you did nothing. You want to place blame at each of our 159 Board of Elections while you sit comfortably in your office at the Gold Dome. If you are not able to do your job – resign,” Mosley said.
Georgia is the poster child for voter suppression. There have been numerous lawsuits by voters and organizations, a Congressional investigation, many voters don’t trust that elections will be fair and honest and that their votes will be counted correctly.
“Don’t let them tell you that black votes don’t matter because that’s how they got in the White House in the first place,” Jeezy, an Atlanta rapper and moderator of the event, said.
This Black Lives Matter movement for change and justice is led by young people and they vote and they are registering others to vote. Their ancestors died for the right to vote and this young generation will turn out in such large numbers until attempts at voter suppression will hopefully be overwhelmed.