Republicans split on allegations against Herschel Walker

Georgia Republicans have feverishly eyed the opportunity to win back a U.S. Senate seat in 2022 after voters sent two Democrats to represent them in the chamber last election.

All hope pointed to Herschel Walker, a football legend who has the vocal backing of former President Donald Trump and handily won his primary with 68% of the vote.

But his campaign was rattled just five weeks out from the election with allegations first reported by The Daily Beast that he paid for an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion — despite his staunch opposition to abortion he vocalizes on the campaign trail.

He has previously voiced support of a “total ban” on abortion — with no exceptions for rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother. Walker recently said he would support a proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that would ban abortions after 15 weeks.

The initial report brought other shocking controversies to light: In a string of social media posts, Walker’s son Christian called his father a “liar” and detailed claims of persistent domestic violence including that Walker had “threatened to kill” his family members.

Additional reporting by the New York Times detailed that Walker had urged the woman he paid to have an abortion years later to go through the procedure again. The woman opted to end the relationship and have the child, who is now 10 years old.

GPB News has not independently verified these reports.

Walker has denied the abortion-related allegations and pledged to file a lawsuit against The Daily Beast — although nothing has yet been filed.

Some Georgia Republicans are worried about the price the party will pay for Walker’s string of controversies.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who emerged after 2020 as an outspoken critic of Trump, slammed the Senate nominee in a scathing op-ed for CNN saying that support from the former president shouldn’t be the litmus test for a winning candidate.

In an interview with GPB News, Duncan said Georgia Republicans are now “playing defense” because of Walker’s questionable past.

“We ignored all the warning signs,” he said. “We ignored all of the normal vetting of what is a true leader to represent us in the U.S. Senate — and we just simply paid attention to a football record and the fact that the former president endorsed him. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean a majority of Republicans did that.”

The lieutenant governor is not running for reelection and has focused his career on a conservative movement he calls “GOP 2.0,” a pathway forward for Republicans that doesn't include Trump.

He said based on President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and Gov. Brian Kemp’s success on the campaign trail, winning back the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Warnock “should have been a layup.”

“We should have done a better job of putting a better candidate forward, but we didn't,” Duncan said. “I think this is some of this wakeup medicine that's like, ‘Hey, we can't keep doing this just because Donald Trump told us to.’ That's a losing strategy.”

But national Republicans are standing steadfastly behind Walker. On Tuesday, GOP U.S. Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are traveling to Georgia to campaign for the nominee.

The trip underscores the importance of the race for Republican efforts to recapture the majority in the Senate.

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler told GPB News that the allegations against Walker are a “distraction” from the “real stakes of this election.”

I'm very familiar with the political attacks that come out of the media,” she said at a recent event for her mobilization group, Greater Georgia. “My focus as someone evaluating candidates is what will they stand for in Washington? What will their votes be?”

Some die-hard Walker supporters aren’t flinching at the allegations, either.

Cobb County Republican Party Chairwoman Salleigh Grubbs donned a bright red “Run Herschel Run” hat and No. 34 jersey at a Greater Georgia canvassing event on Saturday.

She doesn’t believe the abortion-related claims and doubled down that Walker has already taken accountability for his some of his mistakes. “Everybody has a past,” she said.

I have gotten to spend some time with Herschel and he is a man of his word,” Grubbs said. “He is probably one of the most humble men I've ever met in my life. I've spent time with members of his family. He comes from an excellent upbringing. He is a Georgia success story.”

But conservative commentator Erick Erickson sees Walker’s candidacy differently and said in a blog post that he cautioned Republicans against nominating him for the Senate race.

“The baggage had always been there," Erickson wrote. "As I warned in the primary, Walker was the weakest possible candidate, but the GOP went with celebrity."

Christian Walker’s string of tweets calling his father a “liar” after previously being largely supportive of his bid was the last straw for some.

“Georgia Republicans overnight were burning up my phone with text messages,” Erickson wrote. “It didn’t hit home for them until Christian Walker started his tweets, largely throwing his dad under the bus.”

Walker also denied allegations of violence against his ex-wife voiced by his son on social media, although Christian Walker’s mother, Cindy Grossman, has previously accused Herschel Walker of violence and sought a restraining order against him in 2005, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Anything that happened with my ex-wife, what Christian said, I don't know," he said during a press conference in Wadley last week.

Georgia Republicans face the heightened chance that typically party-loyal voters will have a split-ticket this year by backing incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Raphael Warnock over Walker.

Throughout this election cycle, Kemp has stayed distant from Walker and has not officially campaigned with his fellow nominee at all.

This story comes to Raw Story through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Some Georgia DAs pledge they will not prosecute abortion crimes

In the wake of Friday's landmark Supreme Court decision to dissolve federal abortion protections, local elected officials in liberal-leaning areas of the state are vowing not to enforce Georgia’s strict abortion law.

The ruling ultimately gave the final say on abortion rights to state lawmakers, creating a patchwork of policies across the country.

But district attorneys in Gwinnett, DeKalb, Chatham, Athens-Clarke, Oconee, Douglas, Burke and Richmond counties say they will not criminalize abortion-related care.

More than 80 district attorneys nationwide signed a letter pledging to push back against strict abortion laws or outright bans anticipated in at least half of states.

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion," the letter reads, "But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions."

Six current district attorneys from north to south Georgia who penned their names on the letter say they refuse to use their positions to prosecute women seeking abortions and safe abortion providers.

Georgia does not have a so-called “trigger law” on the books so, although the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion is still legal in the state.

State lawmakers passed a strict abortion law in 2019 that bans abortions at around six-weeks of pregnancy — before some women even know they are pregnant.

The law has been temporarily blocked in court, but will now likely take effect. The 11th District Court of Appeals considering the law has asked parties to file briefs within 21 days on the impacts of the Supreme Court's decision.

Those district attorneys who have sworn against prosecuting abortion crimes say they have faced heavy criticism for refusing to enforce state law.

But for DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston, that’s not what she ran for office to do. Boston said she began preparing to act after the bill was passed in 2019.

There are those at the legislature who feel that a district attorney should just enforce the laws that they passed without any regard to how that could affect the community,” she told GPB. “I am not one of those district attorneys. I believe that the people in my community elected me to make decisions that are in the best interests of the community that I serve.

‘Victims should be at the forefront’

Prosecutors standing up to Georgia’s pending abortion law argue that it puts further strain on already limited resources to address violent crime and enforcing abortion bans won’t end abortions, but will end safe abortions.

Western Judicial Circuit DA Deborah Gonzalez said that her office is still sifting through a backlog of 500 cases after the pandemic shuttered the judicial system for months — cases that involve murder, child molestation and sexual assault.

“These are things that need our attention right now,” she said. “And it's not something that we need to then take resources from that and put it towards prosecuting women or doctors for basically giving medical reproductive services and for women making private decisions.”

Augusta District Attorney Jared Williams echoed her frustration.

“I fight gangs who kill children in the streets," he said in a statement. "I fight abusive parents who put their kids in the hospital. I fight child molesters who prey on our children. Until our community is rid of violent crime and sexual predators, I will not expend our limited resources to prosecute women and their doctors for personal health care decisions.”

Implications for the justice system go beyond bogging down already overburdened prosecutors. District attorneys also said they are particularly concerned that victims of sexual assault may be dissuaded from reporting.

Georgia’s 2019 law, House Bill 481, includes an abortion exception for victims of rape or incest, but only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“It does concern me that these kinds of measures may, in fact, lead to underreporting, which means that there could be a lot more crime happening in our community and a lot more young women victims than we will ever be able to help,” Gonzalez said.

“The victim should be at the forefront of this conversation,” DeKalb's Boston said.

Although there is an exception for victims of sexual assault, she said, victims should not be forced to immediately report to police and go through the judicial system if they don’t feel ready.

It is widely recognized that victims of sexual assault rarely report right away and it may take years for them to come forward.

That should not be a prerequisite for victims to have (abortion-related care); that care should be first,” Boston said. “Our first and foremost importance with our victims in the criminal justice system is their mental and their physical well-being.

But, experts speculate that the actual impact of district attorneys refusing to prosecute abortion crimes would be small.

Georgia State University Law Professor Anthony Michael Kreis said that district attorneys traditionally do have the discretion to prioritize what laws they will and will not enforce.

“But for every prosecutor who said that they won't enforce this or that they won't be aggressive about it,” Kreis said, “There's going to be prosecutors out there that are going to be aggressive and who will look forward to bringing the LIFE Act and all the consequences they can into right into full force.”

The state legislature could sidestep local prosecutors and potentially create a state agency to prosecute abortion crimes. The state also still has the authority to strip a doctor who breaks the law of their licensure, he said.

Still, Kreis explained, district attorneys could make the case that the strict abortion law may be infringing on the Georgia Constitution’s extensive privacy protections.

“There is also a state constitutional right which is at stake and I think that as these things play out, that will also become a part of this conversation,” he said.

City council plays defense

District attorneys are not the only elected officials grasping to protect abortion rights.

The Atlanta City Council is backing a resolution that asks the Atlanta Police Department to make arrests for abortion crimes “lowest priority” and bans any government funds from being used to track where abortions are occurring.

On Friday, Atlanta city council member Liliana Bakhtiari urged cities across the state to take similar actions.

While we in the city of Atlanta cannot affect state law — because as we know we are preempted — we can set our own priorities and enforcement and do everything we can to protect women, trans and non-binary individuals seeking abortions,” she said.

Bakhtiari said it was “standard practice” for local officials to weigh in on police prioritization and that the resolution would only impact the city's law enforcement agency. She also addressed criticism that state’s largest metropolitan leaders are voted in through non-partisan elections.

To those of you who think I may be overstepping my boundaries as a councilperson in what is supposed to be a non-Democratic or non-Republican seat: survival is not a partisan issue,” she said. “This is me doing my job. It is our job as public servants to do everything we can to protect people's lives. And that's exactly what this is.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens previously endorsed the city council’s plan and said that Atlanta Police “should not be involved in women's health concerns.”

Georgia has a recent history of state and local entities battling over health care policy.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Brian Kemp clashed with Atlanta and other local governments, which instituted stricter mask and safety requirements than the Republican governor — although those battles centered around what sweeping powers the governor had.

But Kreis told GPB that while municipalities can take steps to not dedicate resources to investigating allegations of abortion crimes by women or providers, in the end there’s little that they can do to circumvent state law.

Certainly for most Georgians, I don't think municipal governments are going to be able to do much to fight back,” he said.

This story comes to Raw Story through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Trump’s Republican revenge tour falters in Georgia

When the dust settles on the 2022 elections in Georgia, Donald Trump’s loudest critics and fiercest supporters will probably agree on one thing: the state’s politics will be forever changed by his fixation on the 2020 election here.

Speaking on a windy Saturday evening at a former drag racing strip in Commerce, northeast of Atlanta, the former president touted a slate of seven GOP primary challengers and continued a scorched-earth approach against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and their allies for failing to attempt to overturn his 2020 defeat.

“Brian Kemp is a turncoat, is a coward, and is a complete and total disaster," Trump said. "If Brian Kemp is renominated, he will go down in flames at the ballot box because Stacey [Abrams] will steal it from him and humiliate him, just like she brazenly stole the Georgia election from right under his nose in 2020, which hurt two senators and which hurt the presidential candidate."

Three separate counts of the election, including a full hand count risk-limiting audit, confirmed that President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump more than 500 days ago, but Georgia is a state that he has remained obsessed with seeking revenge on those who wronged him.

If Trump succeeds in unseating Kemp and other incumbents, his role as kingmaker and avatar for the GOP's newer "America-first" direction could be further cemented ahead of a likely presidential run in 2024. If Kemp and other Republicans hold off Trump's challenge and retain power in November, then a pathway to a post-Trump Republican agenda could become more clear.

But publicly and privately, Georgia Republicans worry about a third option — one where Trump's incendiary primary challenges fail and Democrats like Abrams still win races in an otherwise favorable national environment for conservatives.

MORE: Battleground: Ballot Box | Stacey Abrams is ready for a rematch (and Medicaid expansion)

"You know what, if Kemp wins, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted, because Republicans that happen to like Donald Trump — MAGA Republicans — are not going to go and vote for this guy Kemp," Trump said. "And if they don't vote for Kemp, they're not going to be able to vote for a great man right there, Herschel Walker. And we don't want that to happen. So a vote for Brian Kemp, RINO, in the primary is a vote for a Democrat senator who shouldn't be in the Senate."

Normally, Trump's Georgia rallies have been crowded, raucous affairs, but Saturday's event saw a smaller crowd with a steady stream of people leaving throughout his speech. For much of the day, the crowd was virtually silent during speeches railing against Biden, Democrats, Republican enemies of Trump and the "fake news."

Much of Trump’s speech and the rally’s pre-show hit popular themes among the right flank of the Republican party.

U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker said “we need to get men out of women’s sports” and decried "CTR" (meaning so-called Critical Race Theory).

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams the “Death Star” and said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband should “stay out of our girls’ bathrooms.”

Rep. Jody Hice, who's running for secretary of state, said the state needs an election official that focuses more on prosecuting more cases of fraud, despite little evidence that massive unchecked fraud exists.

Virtually every speaker attacked Biden and Democrats for how they've run the country.

The vendetta against Kemp and his political allies has Trump wading deeper down the ballot and risking defeats against more entrenched, better-funded popular incumbents.

There’s Patrick Witt, the former candidate for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District whom Trump's now endorsed for Insurance Commissioner against incumbent John King because of his stance on “election integrity” and promises not to make insurance “woke.”

Attorney General Chris Carr will contend with Trump-backed John Gordon, who lamented about a campaign ad removed from YouTube that contained false information about the 2020 election and whose website briefly claimed the 2022 election — not yet conducted — was stolen.

Democrat-turned-Trump supporter Vernon Jones earned Trump’s support in the wide-open 10th Congressional District after dropping out of the governor’s race to clear a path for former Sen. David Perdue. Jones faces a crowded primary in the east Georgia district, including fundraising and polling frontrunner Mike Collins.

Meanwhile, Perdue’s insurgent challenge against Kemp has failed to gain traction in polling or donations.

The former U.S. senator, who lost to Sen. Jon Ossoff in Jan. 2021 runoffs, has escalated personal attacks against Kemp and used stronger language making false claims of election fraud in an effort to appeal to the very Trump voters who skipped those runoffs because of similar claims of fraud.

"Let me be very clear: In the state of Georgia, thanks to Brian Kemp, our elections in 2020 were absolutely stolen," Perdue said falsely. "I'm fighting right now to find out what happened in 2020 and make sure that those people responsible for that fraud in 2020 go to jail."

Georgia Democrats, hoping to capitalize on the Republican infighting and shifting demographics, drove a mobile billboard outside the rally blasting current state leaders on their health care policies.

“The positions of David Perdue and Herschel Walker – along with every other Republican running in Georgia – are clear: they would attack the Affordable Care Act, gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, oppose Medicaid expansion, and support plans that would drive up health care costs for Americans,” Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia said. “While Democrats are fighting to improve Georgians’ health care, the Republican agenda puts Trump first and Georgians last, and will keep people from accessing essential health care in communities all across the state.”

While attacking Republican enemies of Trump was a major theme of the evening, several candidates acknowledged that the only way to oust those politicians and regain power would involve showing up to vote.

State Sen. Burt Jones, the Trump candidate for lieutenant governor, told the crowd of around 5,000 that the 2022 election cycle has an outsized importance on the GOP’s path in 2024.

“It will set the stage for ’24, because all eyes will be on Georgia this year,” he said. “And if we don’t win big — if we don’t have a red wave — then it doesn’t play well for us to put Donald Trump back in the White House in 2024.”

Towards the end of the night, after a sizable number of people had left, Trump reminded the crowd and the candidates of why he came to town.

"Mister future governor — I hope, David, you’re going to be the governor, or I just wasted a hell of a lot of time here tonight," he said.

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'Time is running out': Congressional Dems urge movement on voting rights legislation

Ahead of the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Democrats cited a flurry of restrictive voting measures passed in the wake of the 2020 election as evidence for immediate congressional reform.

Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock blasted state GOP lawmakers for additional voting changes proposed ahead of Georgia’s legislative session this year, including a bill that would eliminate ballot drop boxes altogether.

Think about that in the middle of a pandemic, with the omicron variant — and we don't know what the days ahead will bring — some think that their duty is to get rid of drop boxes,” he said Tuesday. “It is very clear what the Republican Party is up to. They are trying to make it harder for some people to vote.”

Pastor of the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit, Warnock lamented at Republicans who may use the upcoming MLK holiday to talk about “bipartisanship” after blocking movement of voting rights legislation.

“You cannot remember Dr. King and dismember his legacy at the same time,” Warnock said. “The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, The Freedom to Vote Act, is the legacy of Dr. King. And if you would give lip service to his name, you need to find yourself on the right side of history — pushing to get these bills done.”

Georgia voters turned out in droves to elect Warnock and his counterpart U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff during narrow runoffs one year ago. Their victories resulted in control of the Senate — where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote — and unified control over both Congress and the White House.

Congressional Democrats pledged Tuesday they would use that power to find a way to push past their GOP colleagues who have blocked movement on voting rights legislation in the Senate. President Joe Biden has said voting rights is a top priority and has vowed to fight for its passage.

If the Senate does not debate voting rights in coming days, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that Democrats will look toward chamber rule changes to bypass lawmakers on the other side of the aisle.

But it is unclear exactly what rule changes they’ll pursue.

Last year, Georgia legislators along party lines passed a sweeping elections bill, “The Election Integrity Act of 2021,” that made numerous changes to the state’s election system after Georgia voted for a Democratic president for the first time since 1992 and for two Democratic U.S. senators, including Warnock, that tipped the balance of power in Washington.

Although Georgia’s legislative leadership has warned members against rehashing the 2020 election during the upcoming session, GOP lawmakers seeking higher office have already proposed additional changes — promising another heated debate over election laws.

The restrictive measures passed by Georgia and other states have fueled a push by federal Democrats for extensive voting protections against state changes — a push that has stalled for months in the Senate.

Warnock, who is among those leading the effort, has grown increasingly frustrated by Republicans blocking debate on the bill by use of the filibuster.

Our democracy is imperiled and time is running out,” he said. “This is a moral moment. And if we fail to protect the voices and the votes of the American people, then we have fallen way short of our responsibility as members of this body.

This story comes to Raw Story through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Georgia Republican leaders warn GOP lawmakers not to 'relitigate' Trump's 2020 defeat

With 2022 elections on the horizon, some GOP lawmakers up for higher office are still looking backward.

So far, most Republican campaigns for state official positions have been littered with efforts to rehash the 2020 presidential election outcome and cater to the voter base in Georgia most loyal to former President Donald Trump, who continues to push false claims of voter fraud.

But as the 2022 legislative session approaches, Republican leaders of both chambers of the General Assembly had strong words for members who may use the time under the Gold Dome to fight past battles.

In broad interviews with GPB News — on a variety of topics from the budget to Buckhead cityhood — both House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan lamented the idea that members will stymie the legislative process by dwelling on the 2020 election outcome.

We’ve got to get past relitigating 2020,” said Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican. “2020 is in the rearview mirror. I didn't like the outcome, but I'm not dwelling on it — I'm looking forward.”

Early this year, Georgia legislators along party lines passed a sweeping elections bill, “The Election Integrity Act of 2021,” that made numerous changes to the state’s election system in the wake of the turmoil wrought by the 2020 election.

The changes came after Trump and other Republicans pushed false narratives saying widespread voter fraud caused Trump to lose Georgia to President Joe Biden.

Proponents argue that changes were needed after the pandemic upended how the state handles elections. But opponents have blasted Republicans and argued that the changes make it harder to vote.

More changes to the bill have already been filed, including a proposal to ban ballot drop boxes altogether. An analysis by GPB News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that more than half of votes in major Democratic counties were cast using drop boxes.

The proposal sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller, who is in a crowded primary race for lieutenant governor. The prefiled legislation is prescient of what’s to come as lawmakers use the legislative session to bolster their campaigns.

Ralston said he doesn’t think reworking aspects of the election law passed last session are necessary.

“I know that some of the people running in 2022 want to talk a lot about 2020,” he said. “That's their right to do that. I think Georgians ultimately are going to say to them, ‘Look, tell us what you want to do about the future.’”

Meanwhile, Duncan has been an outspoken critic of the faction of the Republican Party upholding false claims that Trump won the 2020 election.

After deciding not to run for reelection this year, Duncan launched “GOP 2.0,” an effort he brands as a new political path for the Republican Party that puts “policy over politics.”

“It's the wrong direction for our party to relitigate something that has been proven to be false around all the conspiracy theories,” he told GPB News.

Duncan said he knows he will be on paper, a lame duck,” after deciding not to seek office for another term, but he issued a stern warning to members of his chamber in both political parties to refrain from using the Senate floor as a campaign preview.

“That is really where I want to be at in this process as we play out through the 2022 legislative cycle: is to try to eliminate as much of the background political noise as we can, to not try to relitigate the 2020 election and to not try to overreach and throw red meat in certain crowds,” he said.

Duncan also expressed frustration over the pending primary war in the gubernatorial race between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who recently announced his candidacy. Perdue has been pushing a lot of the same false election claims as Trump.

Duncan called the matchup “ridiculous.”

“The brutal realities are this: David Perdue is running against Brian Kemp,” Duncan said. “Brian Kemp wins the primary. And on April 1st, when the general election season starts, he will have $0.00 in his campaign account because he's had to run against David Perdue. And Stacey Abrams will probably have a hundred-plus million dollars.”

“We continue to make it hard on ourselves as Republicans, especially here in Georgia,” he said.

But forces outside the state’s borders are also pulling the party further apart.

A group of lawmakers launched The Georgia Freedom Caucus, a state branch of the congressional House Freedom Caucus that pushes hyper-conservative ideals.

Although the group is only a half-dozen lawmakers strong, the new caucus poses another challenge for the state’s legislative leaders.

I hope they're more constructive than the one has been in Washington,” Ralston said. “My own view of caucuses is that every time you create a caucus, you create a division. And this certainly creates a division that, frankly, we don't need this year. But by the same token, they're free to have a Freedom Caucus.”

Aside from talk of additional changes to the state’s election system, lawmakers are expected to hash out other partisan battles over other top-of-mind issues such as crime — including an effort by some wealthy residents of Buckhead to secede from the city of Atlanta.

This story comes to Raw Story through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Ahmaud Arbery's death fueled calls for change. Here are the top five things it did

Although it took more than 600 days after Ahmaud Arbery’s death in February 2020 for a court to begin trial of the men charged in his killing, the tragic incident sparked a wave of change within his hometown and across the Peach State.

Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and William Bryan, 52, face state charges, including murder, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault for chasing Arbery in pickup trucks as he jogged in Coastal Georgia and shooting him to death. Bryan filmed the killing on his cellphone.

Here are the top five changes fueled by the uproar after the 25-year-old Black man was gunned down.

1. Hate crimes law

In a historic move under the Gold Dome, the Georgia General Assembly approved new hate crimes legislation after more than a decade without one on the books.

On the last day of the 2020 legislative session, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed it into law.

Georgia was one of the few remaining states without a hate crimes statute, but what Kemp called the “vigilante-style" shooting of Arbery near Brunswick renewed calls for that to change.

The law enhances penalties for those who commit crimes against someone because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, among other identifiable characteristics.

“We saw injustice with our own eyes," Kemp said when he signed the bill. "Georgians protested to demand action, and state lawmakers rose to the occasion."

Race has played a prominent role in the first days of jury selection in the trial of the three white men charged in Arbery’s killing. The defense questioned potential jurors on their views on race — for example, whether or not they view a Confederate flag as a racist symbol.

2. Citizen’s arrest abolished

Following passage of hate crimes legislation, the Georgia lawmakers also moved to abolish the state’s Civil War-era citizen’s arrest statute.

Defense attorneys for the men charged in Arbery’s killing attempted to use the vague statute, which Kemp called a law “ripe for abuse.”

The defendants have said they believed Arbery had committed a burglary nearby when they chased him through the Satilla Shores neighborhood — although no evidence to support the claims has been found.

The law, now repealed, allowed any citizen to “arrest” another if they had knowledge that a crime was committed. Georgia lawmakers replaced it with more specific language about more narrow circumstances when a citizen can detain another.

Arbery’s family flanked Georgia’s Republican governor when he signed the bill into law.

3. Jackie Johnson removed and indicted

It took nearly three months for arrests to be made in the shooting death of Arbery. Charges against former district attorney Jackie Johnson allege she played a large role in the delay.

Johnson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of violation of oath of public officer — a misdemeanor — and obstruction of a police officer — a felony.

The indictment states Johnson violated her oath of office by “showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.” Gregory McMichael was an investigator in Johnson’s office until he retired in 2019. The court documents state that Johnson also directed law enforcement not to arrest Travis McMichael.

The case against Johnson remains pending.

Family and supporters of Arbery are also calling for an investigation into another district attorney who took on the case after Johnson recused herself.

In a letter to the Glynn County Police Department, District Attorney George Barnhill justified the actions of the McMichaels and Bryan.

“We do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties,” he wrote.

All three are now charged with murder, aggravated assault and other offenses related to Arbery’s death.

4. Federal hate crime charges

The McMichaels and Bryan not only face state charges but also federal hate crimes charges.

In April, the three men were indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District Court of Georgia and charged with hate crimes and the attempted kidnapping of Arbery.

Although the federal court case does not have a start date yet, it sets a precedent for the state court proceedings and the role race will play in the trial that’s underway.

The federal indictment alleges the defendants threatened and used force against Arbery, who was jogging down a public street, because of his race. The three defendants are white; Arbery was Black.

5. Glynn's first Black chief of police

Following the killing of Arbery, the Glynn County commission voted in June 2021 to hire the county’s first full-time Black chief of police.

Former FBI agent Jacques Battiste was chosen after a search conducted by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. He assumed the role overseeing the department after an unsuccessful attempt by state lawmakers to abolish the department last session, prompted in part by the problems surrounding the Arbery case.

Trump's upcoming rally likely to highlight tension among Georgia Republicans

Former President Donald Trump will be in Georgia later this month for a rally in Perry. The Sept. 25 event is likely to drum up drama in the state’s Republican Party.

Trump’s hold on the state’s GOP hasn’t wavered since the 2020 election. After his loss to Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes, he pledged he would be back in Georgia to push his own political agenda.

Trump has continued to hammer Gov. Brian Kemp any chance he gets. In Trump’s view, the Georgia governor should’ve done more to overturn the election results.

Trump’s early endorsement of now Senate candidate Herschel Walker froze the state party’s pool of potential primary candidates to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock for months before Walker actually got in the race.

Now, statewide races have begun to fill with pro-Trump primary candidates, an indication of a brewing battle within the party between those who are loyal to the former president and those who are not loyal enough.

Top state officials such as Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are political targets of the former president, who has promised to use his power to get them voted out of office.

While most of the criticism of Trump’s hold on the party takes place behind closed doors, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, another Georgia Republican who has drawn the ire of Trump, has become an outspoken advocate for conservative Republicans to take the party in a far different direction.

In his new book, GOP 2.0, Duncan lays out a new vision for the party — a move, he says, is key for Republicans moving forward.

“There's a lot of things we learned about the last four years — that an outsider, kind of business-minded person, could get quick change in Washington, D.C.,” Duncan told Georgia Public Broadcasting during an interview last month. "But the approach was unelectable going forward."

“We want to continue to hone those policies that make sense to a majority of Americans,” he added. “And I think we need to do all that with a better tone and one that encourages people instead of discourages people.”

Some Republicans are concerned that extreme pro-Trump candidates like Walker, one of the most legendary football players to ever don the red and black at the University of Georgia, will drive away grassroots voters. The state party saw firsthand the negative impact of Trump’s false claims of election fraud on turnout for the runoffs for former U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Many are choosing to rally behind a different primary candidate.

A prominent figure in rural Georgia, three-term agriculture commissioner Gary Black has won a wide range of endorsements from local sheriffs to former Gov. Nathan Deal and even former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a die-hard Trump supporter.

Details are still slim on the speaker lineup for the upcoming rally in Perry, but it will likely paint a clearer picture of the Georgia Republicans who still fall in line behind Trump and party members who don’t.

This story comes to Raw Story through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia