Fulton County has adopted hate crimes legislation that closely resembles an ordinance Sandy Springs adopted in 2019.

The ordinance, approved June 17, sets penalties of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine for persons convicted on crimes who target victims based on race, color, creed, age, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or physical or mental disability.

The ordinance also directs the Fulton County Police Department to collect data on hate crimes and to send that information to the FBI.

“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,” said Commissioner Bob Ellis, who sponsored the ordinance.

The ordinance defines a hate crime as an offense such as vandalism or disorderly conduct that includes an element of bias or prejudice. The ordinance will be enforced in the unincorporated area of Fulton County.

Commissioners want other cities and counties to adopt their own hate crimes ordinances.

Hate crimes ordinances have gained renewed momentum following the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests related to the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last month, and particularly in Georgia, with the February shooting near Brunswick of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed jogger who was confronted and killed by two armed White residents who claimed he acted suspiciously. Georgia has no statewide hate crimes law and the General Assembly is currently debating possible versions.

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Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.