“While some vilify, target and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue,” Kemp said.

With that statement, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 838 into law Wednesday afternoon, ensuring first responders receive protection from any job-related litigation. HB838 was a form of compromise for many Georgia Republicans after the Legislature passed the Hate Crimes Bill earlier this year.

“This legislative action in this moment pours salt in the wounds of the Georgians of all races and backgrounds who are participating daily in protests calling for the reform of policing and expressing their support for black lives,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Additionally, this provision undermines the officers who strive to obey their oath of office and uphold high standards in their interactions with the public. We oppose HB 838 in its current form and will explore all options to protect the First Amendment rights of Georgians.”

HB 838 was loosely-titled, “The Police Bill of Rights.” It contains the following:

“…so as to enact a bill of rights for peace officers under investigation; to provide for interrogation procedures; to provide for compliance review panels; to provide for the right to bring suit; to provide for the right of notice of disciplinary action; to provide for limitations of disciplinary actions; to provide for bias-motivated behavior with the intent to intimidate(s), harass(es), or terrorize(s) another person because of that person’s actual or perceived employment as a first responder.”

State Rep. Bee Nguyen said via social media, “the passage of the Hate Crimes bill has been tainted by the passage of the Police Bill of Rights Bill. Law enforcement will now be considered a protected class under HB 838. Georgia Republicans knew exactly what they were doing.”

Governor Kemp remained steadfast after signing the legislation.

“During my time as Governor, I have attended the funerals of far too many law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and we must act,” Kemp said.

The NAACP and Fair Fight Action argued the bill makes police a protected group.

“Though we stand in full support of all law enforcement, we believe that HB838 is more dangerous to our community than HB426 is good. To see the legislature prioritize HB 838 instead of repealing citizens arrest is heartbreaking and does not do justice for my son,” says Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery.

Persons violating the law can be sentenced to 1-5 years in prison, as well as fined up to $5,000.

“This compromise in the political process will forever ring throughout history as a signal that Black lives are a bargaining chip toward a political end and dead, black bodies are a expendable commodity in the halls of legislative power,” adds Rev James Woodall, State President of the Georgia NAACP.


In this Friday, July 17, 2020 file photo, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a coronavirus briefing at the Capitol, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
In this Friday, July 17, 2020 file photo, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a coronavirus briefing at the Capitol, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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