Ga. hate crimes legislation to be introduced in response to anti-gay beating

After the video went viral, it galvanized LGBT activists and neighbors in the Pittsburgh community who spoke out against violence and crime. The video shows young men who identify themselves as part of the “Jack City” gang ambushing White, beating him and calling him “faggot” as he walks out of the McDaniel Street store.

“We have a federal hate crimes law. But there’s no law here in Georgia that says its a crime to beat a man because he is gay, no law in Georgia that says it a crime to beat someone because they’re Jewish, because they are a lesbian, because they’re black, because they don’t look like you,” Taylor said today at the rally.

“We’ve got to get back that here in this state.”

Georgia at one time did have a state hate crimes bill but it was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 2004. Today, Georgia is one of five states without a state hate crimes law.

Taylor took on critics of hate crime bills who say “all crimes are hate crimes.”

“Some people say a hate crime is nothing but thought crime. How can you punish someone for a thought? Every crime is a hate crime.

“The truth of the matter is a hate crime is nothing short of domestic terrorism,”Taylor said. “When you’re afraid to walk the streets of your home, your own neighborhood, it is nothing but terrorism.”

Taylor asked for the support of the dozens of people who braved frigid temperatures to stand in support of White and the Pittsburgh community at the nearly two-hour rally that featured speakers including U.S. Rep. John Lewis, openly gay Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, Atlanta City Council member Cleta Wilson and Pittsburgh community activist and former state Rep. Douglas Dean.

“This crime here is I think is sending an important signal to the community and when I introduce this legislation to have a hate crimes law back in Georgia I want to have the calvary there with me at the Capitol. The same calvary that is here for Brandon White. We’ve got to stand up for every Brandon White,” Taylor said.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a stong LGBT advocate, said it is up to the people to continue to see justice for Brandon White and for all people who are victims of senseless violence.

“Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t give out. Don’t get lost in a sea of despair. Continue to speak up and speak out until we see that justice is done for Brandon White. We must do that,” Lewis said.

“People must not be allowed to get away by beating an innocent young person, or an elderly person, or any human being,” he added. “There is not room in our society for violence against any human being.”

Photo: State Rep. Rashad Taylor speaks a rally today on McDaniel Street in southwest Atlanta where a gay man was brutally beaten. Taylor said he will introduce a sate hate crimes bill. (by Dyana Bagby