May 18, 2020 - In light of the long and bloody trail of lynchings, deaths, and killings of African Americans from Eli Cooper, to Sam Hose, to Mary Turner, to Roger & Dorothy Malcolm and scores of others throughout our state’s history, we call for action, justice, and the transformation of our beloved Georgia. Specifically, in response to the recent killing of Ahmaud Arbery, we call upon Governor Kemp and the General Assembly to seize this moment and make Georgia a more just place by enacting a “Hate Crimes Act” and bringing an end to the “Citizens Arrest statute” when the session reconvenes on June 11, 2020.
As faith leaders, we stand in solidarity with the suffering community of Glynn County and speak in the spirit of redeeming love, truth, and justice. As people of faith, we believe that every human being is a child of God and as such deserves not to have their lives cut down simply for being Black in America. This is why we are strongly urging the GA General Assembly to pass a “Hate crimes act” and send a message that hate has no place in a modern society. Additionally, we’re calling for the Assembly to end the “Citizen’s Arrest statute” that puts Black communities at increased risk of profiling, violence and death.
We are thankful for the JUSTGeorgia coalition brought together by the Georgia NAACP that includes grassroots activists, clergy, legal experts, organizers and people of goodwill from our state. We ask all people of faith who desire to join the fight to get justice for Ahmaud Arbery to support the work of this coalition because it best represents the indigenous voice of Georgia communities. This coalition is calling for a number of actions regarding prosecutorial accountability, transparent independent investigations, criminal legal reform repeals, voter engagement and investment in local movement infrastructure. We affirm the work of this coalition and join it in the pursuit of justice for Ahmaud.
We are ready and prepared to meet with state officials and members of the legislature to discuss how we can support the passage of a Hate Crimes Act and bringing an end to the problematic Citizens Arrest statute. We are asking all faith leaders to join us in this call for our state to do justice by acting on these recommendations. We also ask that all active communities of faith across the state push for robust voter education, voter registration, and voter participation in this 2020 election year. This ensures that elected officials, who choose not to side with equity and justice, can be replaced by those who will represent the preservation of life in ethnic communities. We plan to keep a record of how elected officials have responded to our call and make it clear to our constituencies who stood on the side of justice during this tragic time.
The coalition is making the following three demands:
- The GA General Assembly vote on and enact a Hate Crimes law and end the Citizens Arrest statute when the session reconvenes June 11.
- Concerned citizens contact Georgia State Senators articulating the demand #1 of this statement.
- All active faith communities join this coalition and amplify our collective power by pushing for robust voter education, voter registration, and voter participation in this 2020 election year.
Reverend Billy Michael Honor
Director of Faith Organizing
New Georgia Project/Loose the Chains
Reverend Francys Johnson
Pastor, Civil rights Attorney, Board Chair
New Georgia Project
Bishop Reginald Jackson
Sixth Episcopal District of the AME church
Bishop Thomas Brown
Sixth Episcopal District of the CME church
Reverend James Woodall
Rev. Dr. John Vaughn
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta)
Rev. Dr. Neichelle Guidry
Minister and Dean of Chapel
Rabbi Lydia Medwin
The Temple (Atlanta)
Reverend Amber Lowe
Minister and Religious Scholar
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Reverend Eric George Vickers
Beulah Baptist Church (Atlanta)
Activist and Minister
Love Beyond Walls
Inner-City Muslim Action Network
National Organizing Director
Faith in Action
Rev. Dr. Randall Bailey
Minister and Biblical Scholar