Trump-backing Georgia Dem wants hate-crime law for anti-MAGA thugs
Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones is a rarity in politics: a Democrat who openly, proudly supports President Donald Trump. And he’s also Black.
Jones endorsed Trump in April, calling him the most “action-oriented president of my lifetime.” He cited Trump’s support for historically Black colleges and criminal justice reforms as reasons. He also identified Trump’s efforts to curtail the “negatives” of illegal immigration, his trade policies and his support for the military as factors in his decision.
Subsequently, Jones’s fellow Democrats almost drummed him out of the legislature. Jones acknowledged being “attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party,” and with the blowback, announced his decision to resign.
He later retracted, however, after an outpouring of support from Trump’s fans in Georgia and across the nation. “I will not allow the Democrats to bully me into submission. I will not let them win,” Jones tweeted at the time.
Perhaps that experience helped influence Jones to announce this week that he intends to file a bill that would make it a hate crime under Georgia law to attack someone on the grounds of “party affiliation.”
But he also was appalled by Trump supporters being battered during the unrest over the death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who died last month in police custody.
“I’ve watched countless videos of Trump supporters getting attacked in the streets simply due to their support of @realDonaldTrump,” Jones tweeted on June 9. “Let’s call this what this is: a hate crime. And as we return to the legislature next week, I’ll be introducing legislation that’ll make it such.”
“Political affiliation should be a protected class, right alongside race, gender, and religion,” he added, “and my legislation will do just that. Making any politically motivated attack a HATE CRIME. Wearing a MAGA hat should never endanger your life.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia is one of at least four states without a hate-crimes statute, and lawmakers face mounting pressure to adopt one. That arose after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man who was killed by two white men who allegedly tried to stop him to question him about a burglary in their neighborhood.
The bill now before lawmakers would spell out penalties for those who target others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. Rep. Jones’s bill would include targeting for “actual or perceived political beliefs or political associations,” according to the Journal-Constitution.
“Americans are being attacked nationwide because of their party affiliation and political ideology,” he said in a statement to the paper.
“I have personally been subjected to hate speech and threats because of my support for President Trump’s re-election. While we are discussing hate-crimes legislation in Georgia, this could address another form of hate crime that people are experiencing.”
Under the proposed bill, someone convicted of a crime motivated by bias could receive, atop any other punishment, another three months to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor, and at least two years in prison for a felony.
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