As the Georgia General Assembly considers approving its own hate-crimes law, Bob Ellis said it’s about time Fulton County had similar legislation.

“(Hate crimes) victimize not only the target but every person that group represents,” said the District 2 Fulton Board of Commissioners representative who sponsored the proposed county law.

At its June 17 recess meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta, the board voted 7-0 to approve Fulton’s own hate-crimes ordinance, which will add penalties such as extended fines or jail time for individuals convicted of those offenses.

However, it will be limited to only county laws, which are misdemeanors since felonies such as murder fall under Georgia law. Fulton’s new law is modeled after the city of Sandy Springs’ hate-crimes ordinance, which was approved in July and is the first city law of its kind in the state.

Before the board’s vote, Commissioners Natalie Hall (District 4), Marvin Arrington Jr. (District 5) and Joe Carn (District 6) asked to be added as co-sponsors of the bill, and Hall asked to have age added to the list of categories a crime against someone could fall under to be considered a hate crime.

“This is a step in the right direction,” she said. “I’m very pleased to see that you brought this forward. It’s been a topic of conversation for myself and colleagues on this board.

Said Carn, “In District 6, the nine mayors looked at collectively putting in a hate-crime stance throughout the cities. I don’t think it went anywhere because they wanted a unanimous agreement, but this is a great step forward.”

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