Sandy Springs Councilmember Andy Bauman is proposing a hate crimes law that would create stronger penalties for local crimes based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, among others.
The proposal, which is up for discussion in the council’s non-voting work session June 18, would also require the Sandy Springs Police Department track and report hate crimes through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation reporting systems.
The ordinance is needed in part of because the state hate crimes law was not passed by the General Assembly in the last session, making it one of the few states without one, Bauman said. This ordinance would demonstrate the city’s support for such state law, which he believes is widely supported in the community.
Although Bauman is not aware of any reported hate crimes in Sandy Springs, there have been others nearby, including anti-Semitic vandalism at metro area high schools and colleges.
“And it is not just anti-Semitic crimes, but potential crimes against mosques, or churches and LGBTQ individuals are unfortunately possible within our community,” Bauman wrote in a memo about the ordinance.
The ordinance would increase penalties for crimes proven to be against victims targeted specifically because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or physical or mental disability. The maximum penalties have not been determined.
The proposal follows Dunwoody’s and other nearby cities’ passage of a nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits local, privately-owned businesses from discriminating against minority groups, including LGBTQ people.
Bauman said he has been asked about doing a similar version, but he is focused on the hate crimes ordinance for now. He wants to see how the non-discrimination ordinances play out in other cities, he said.