From your baby boy. I love you, Mama. I know sometimes we don’t see eye to eye, but that still don’t change the love I have for you. On Feb. 23, my son Ahmaud Aubrey went out for a jog. Ahmaud would go jogging every day. I said, “Do you think that staying fit is going to make you look as young as me?” And he would just laugh. He stopped at a construction site to take a break and to look around for a few minutes. But when he left, he was followed by three white men who chased him down and killed him in the street. He was unarmed, but he was black. To me, this was clearly a hate crime. But Georgia is one of four states in the country without a hate crime law. If Georgia had a hate crime law, Ahmaud’s killers could face additional sentencing for murdering my son because of the color of his skin. As we’ve seen in the protests about George Floyd, Ahmaud is just one of the many black lives that has been lost due to hatred. Georgia lawmakers pass a hate crime bill. Ahmaud was the baby. And when Ahmaud knew that I was angry, and I was upset with him, he would look at me with this really, really funny eye and he would do that just to make me laugh, just to make me smile. He was not only my baby. He was actually my friend. Yes, Ahmaud’s murderers were arrested and hopefully they’ll be thrown behind bars. So why do we even need a hate crime law? Because it would show that targeting someone because of their race is unacceptable. My son’s murder was not the only crime committed in Georgia that was motivated by prejudice. Ronald Trey Peters was murdered because he was gay. “Witnesses say his attacker used an anti-gay slur Before shooting Peters multiple times.” White supremacists spray-painted swastikas on a high school in Roswell. “But parents say the bigger question is, why is there no hate crime statute here in Georgia?” In November, a 16-year-old white girl planned a knife attack on a black church. “The white suspect had researched black churches online and written down how she planned to carry out the attack.” And it’s not just recent history. “Georgia legislative council has called on the F.B.I. to investigate the reorganized Klan.” I know that prejudice and racism did exist in the place that I chose home. I had to explain to Ahmaud that he would be sometimes disliked because the color of his skin. But when he left our home for a jog, I never thought that I needed to be worried. Ahmaud wasn’t killed because he was doing a crime. So why would he have been targeted if it wasn’t just for hate? Last year, Georgia Statehouse moved in the right direction, passing House Bill 426, which would impose harsher sentencing for hate crimes. But the bill has been stalled for a year and State Senate leadership refuses to vote on it. Chairman Jesse Stone and Lieutenant Governor Duncan, please do the right thing. State senators are going back into session. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support this. Pass a hate crime law. And to have this law passed in memory of Ahmaud wouldn’t bring him back, but it would mean so much to me that him leaving me did change something.
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