After advocacy by thousands of Georgians – including Delta and its employees - Georgia has approved tough new hate crime legislation. The bill was formally signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday in Atlanta. Georgia had been one of four states without a law explicitly targeting hate crimes after a 2000 Georgia law was overturned for being overly vague.
In keeping with company values, Delta was one of more than 50 Georgia companies that formed a coalition urging the Georgia General Assembly to approve a “comprehensive, specific and clear bill” against hate crimes. The effort was organized by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, of which Delta CEO Ed Bastian is on the Executive Committee and will be chair in 2021.
More than 4,000 Delta people contacted Georgia lawmakers to urge passage of tougher penalties for hate crimes.
“I want to thank the thousands of Delta people who made their voices heard in support of justice for victims of hate crimes in Georgia,” Bastian said Friday. “I also want to thank the members of BOLD for leading the charge. We have a long road ahead of us, but this is an important step forward in our journey towards a more equal and just society.”
Bastian said he was grateful for those at the state level that worked tirelessly to pass this legislation during a chaotic time. “I’d like to first thank Speaker Ralston and those in the House of Representatives who supported the bill over a year ago for leading on the issue. I’d also like to thank Lt. Gov. Duncan who led on the effort in the State Senate and the members of the Senate that worked with him. And I’d like to thank Gov. Kemp, who was a steady hand behind the scenes to build support for the legislation.”
Keyra Lynn Johnson, Delta’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, added, “Our commitment at Delta goes beyond diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve said we will use whatever means we have to move the world toward a better, more just tomorrow – and that includes helping to eradicate systemic issues and actions rooted in hate. Our brand and the people of Delta played an important role in speaking up and out for justice.
After the Georgia House passed its version of hate crimes legislation in 2019, the effort gained momentum in the Senate after the February killing of jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked nationwide outrage over police brutality and injustice against the Black community. Just Wednesday, funeral services were held for Rayshard Brooks, a Black man shot to death by Atlanta police.
HB 426 gives sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.