Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Wednesday aimed at protecting police and other first responders from bias-motivated crimes in Georgia, capping a series of controversial moves by state Republican leaders that nearly derailed passage of a separate bill outlawing hate crimes.
The bill Kemp signed into law sets out punishments for those who commit crimes against police officers, firefighters and medics because of their “actual or perceived employment as a first responder.” Crimes would have to involve serious physical injury or property damage.
Backers of the legislation have highlighted it as a show of support for police and other first-responders amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice that have prompted tense and at times violent encounters between officers and protesters. Late Wednesday, Kemp said he had “attended the funerals of far too many law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty,” and that the bill aims to help “those who are risking their lives to protect us.”