This State May Be The First To Repeal This Slavery-Era Law

Mural of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA
Zain Murdock
May 5, 2021

After the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in 2020, a prosecutor cited a 1863 law that made it legal for any white person to capture, arrest, and lynch Black people as they saw fit. It’s not surprising this ridiculous law existed years ago. Except, in Georgia – and the rest of the country – it STILL exists!

The lawyer that helped create the 1863 Citizens Arrest law also said Black people’s lives were “improved by … enslavement.” The law was pretty much an excuse to stop enslaved Black people from escaping north. And, for the first time, generations later, Georgia’s finally getting rid of it. 

There’s one caveat, though.

The bill that’ll strike Citizens Arrest from law would still allow off-duty police officers to arrest people they “believe” committed crimes. Because we’re supposed to believe police officers always tell the truth?

When we say "defund the police" or that the system is "modern-day slavery," we aren't just shouting metaphors or slogans. America’s idea of policing was literally created in response to slavery in order to squash Black self-determination.

The system isn't meant to work for Black people because they've never seen us as "people" – they see us as property. All 50 states need to get rid of this law. And, quite frankly, all 50 states need to get rid of this system!

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