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Verify: Georgia does not have a hate crimes law

After two men were charged with Ahmaud Arbery's shooting death, many people are asking if they will also be charged with a hate crime.

MACON, Ga. — Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds says there was more than enough evidence to arrest a father and son in the Ahmuad Arbery murder investigation.

Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood in Feb.

Reynolds held a press conference on Friday laying out the timeline of the GBI's involvement in the case. He says they were officially requested to be involved late Tuesday evening. 

RELATED: GBI director: 'More than sufficient probable cause' for felony murder charges in Ahmaud Arbery killing

They reviewed the video of the shooting and interviews Wednesday.

By Thursday night, investigators say they had enough to arrest Gregory and Travis McMichael and charge them with murder.

But some Georgians want to know if the pair will also be charged with a hate crime.

The U.S. Department of Justice began prosecuting hate crimes on the federal level in 1968, but not every state in the country has a law against them.

The DOJ defines a hate crime as one that is committed "on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability."

During that Friday morning news conference about Arbrey's shooting death, a reporter specifically asked if the McMichaels would also be charged with a hate crime.

"There's no hate crime in Georgia. There isn't. It's one of, I think, four or five states left in the union that doesn't have a hate crime," Reynolds said.

So, that's verified. Georgia does not have a hate crime law on its books.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, the Peach State is one of only four states lacking this type of law. The other three are Arkansas, Wyoming, and South Carolina.

"Earlier this week, I watched a video depicting Mr. Arbery's last moments alive. It is absolutely horrific, and Georgians deserve answers," Governor Brian Kemp said earlier this week at the state capitol.

The Georgia House passed HB 426 last year, which would impose longer prison sentences those convicted on hate crimes. But it stalled out in the Georgia Senate. 

In a statement sent to 13WMAZ Friday afternoon, Governor Brian Kemp implied he's open to discuss this type of legislation, saying:

"We know conversations about legislation are already underway, and we will wor through the process when the General Assembly reconvenes."

The Georgia General Assembly has been suspended since March 13, and could resume next month. Legislative leaders have not confirmed an official date.

According to the U.S. DOJ, even if a state does not have a hate crimes law, they can still be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

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