A white female teenager has been arrested in Gainesville, Ga., after her high school peers told administrators on Friday about her notebook filled with plans to kill Black churchgoers at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to police.
The 16-year-old girl was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and has been booked into the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.
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While Gainesville Police Department Sgt. Kevin Holbrook told The Washington Post that the planned attack was “definitely racially motivated,” Georgia does not have any hate crime laws in order to prosecute her that way. It is one of four states that do not have official hate crime laws.
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Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, head of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that he wants to see the girl tried as an adult in court.
“Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have been on the rise for many years,” Jackson said, “but it is unfortunate we cannot have this perpetrator prosecuted on hate crimes in Georgia because there is no law on the books to address it.”
The Journal-Constitution reported that Rev. Michelle Rizer-Pool said the girl, whose name has not been released, visited the church last Wednesday night. No services had been scheduled for that evening.
“Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” police Chief Jay Parrish said Tuesday in a news release. “The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.”
Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said in a statement to ABC News that the teenager’s actions are not a reflection of the public schools in the area.
“As a school system that celebrates our diversity, we are beyond stunned with the recent development,” Williams said. “However, we are extremely proud of our students notifying school administration of a possible off-campus threat.”
Gainesville is about 70% white and 16% Black, according to the most recent census data.