National campaign launched to bring hate crime law to Georgia

Georgia is one of five states in the nation without a hate crime law, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has announced a campaign to remedy that and bring that number down to zero.

The 50 States Against Hate campaign was launched on August 17 and will work toward passage of hate crime laws in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming while also strengthening existing hate crime laws in the other 45 states.

The announcement came at a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man dragged from his jail cell and murdered after a trial that many historians now say was awash in anti-Semitism. The commemoration was attended by LGBT ally U.S. Rep. John Lewis, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes and current Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.

“The recent hate-based murders in Charleston by a white supremacist are a wake-up call that the time is now to bring strong hate crime laws to all 50 states—including South Carolina and Georgia, which lack them entirely,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director, in a statement. 

Aside from the five states that have no hate crime law at all, only 32 state hate crime laws include sexual orientation, 31 include disability, 29 include gender and only 11 include gender identity.

“For the memory of the Charleston 9, for the memory of Leo Frank, for the memories of thousands who have lost their lives or have had their lives changed by a hate crime, we must correct this wrong,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “We must pass a hate crime law here in Georgia, and we must strengthen the protections in all 50 states.”

The campaign will focus on advancing four key goals, including stronger laws, better training, improved data collection and increased community awareness and reporting.

ADL has convened numerous local and national civil rights groups to support the initiative, including many LGBT groups. Locally, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization Georgia Equality and Jewish LGBT rights organization SOJOURN have signed on to the effort, and the national LGBT groups include Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG National.