The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus is pushing for a hate crime bill in the state after a white female teenager was arrested last week for planning to kill Black churchgoers with knives and other sharp objects.
The caucus, made up of 65 state representatives and Senate members, released a statement Thursday.
“Today’s events are yet another example of how racism continues to erode the hearts of many, even our youth,” the statement said. “We are saddened by the notion of a 16-year-old girl targeting a black church with the intention to commit harm. We thank the Gainesville police and other law enforcement officials for their swift action to prevent yet another national tragedy. Now more than ever we need to end the incivility of hatred and further advance the process of becoming ‘one nation, under God, indivisible.’ As a caucus, we intend to press for state policy in the form of passing a hate crime bill that protects the civil rights of all and further penalizes those who commit hate crimes. We will not allow such actions to define us, but rather push us to do better and be better.”
Georgia is one of four states, including Arkansas, Wyoming and South Carolina, that do not have hate crime laws.
The 16-year-old girl that sparked the move to push for a hate crime law in Georgia planned to kill churchgoers at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Ga., a historically Black church. The girl reportedly planned to attack people earlier this month when she went to the church on a Wednesday evening, but no one was there.
Bishop Reginald Jackson of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church previously said he wants the girl tried as an adult.