Fulton County Commissioners Unanimously Approve Hate Crime Legislation
Ordinance establishes penalties for bias crimes
ATLANTA – At their June 17, 2020 meeting, Fulton County Commissioners unanimously approved legislation to establish penalties for hate crimes. The ordinance, sponsored by District 2 Commissioner Bob Ellis, calls for criminals who target victims based on race, color, creed, age, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin to face up to 60 days in jail and up to a one thousand dollar fine. The measure was co-sponsored by District 4 Commissioner Natalie Hall, District 6 Commissioner Joe Carn and Fulton County Commission Vice-Chairman and District 5 Commissioner Marvin S. Arrington, Jr.
“Fulton County is a very diverse County and that diversity represents our strength and it is well documented that hate crimes can have a heavy, negative impact on communities,” says Commissioner Bob Ellis. “As such, they deserve higher attention and penalties and while the state of Georgia is presently discussing passage of Hate Crimes legislation, and I am hopeful that this passes soon. But, counties and municipalities have an important opportunity to also lend their voice and take action with specific ordinances of their own.”
A hate crime is an offense such as disorderly conduct or vandalism with an added element of bias or prejudice, causing it to inflict greater individual or societal harm. The hate crimes legislation would be enforced in the unincorporated area of Fulton County.
Commissioner Ellis adds the legislation closely mirrors an earlier ordinance passed by the City of Sandy Springs. Commissioners unanimously backed the measure in hopes that other counties and municipalities will follow suit and consider passage of comparable ordinances for their respective jurisdictions. The legislation also calls on the Fulton County Police Department to collect data concerning the commission of hate crimes and provide that information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.