Atlanta, June 23, 2020 – Georgia's legislature on Tuesday passed hate crimes legislation deemed essential by state leaders, sending the measure to Gov. Brian Kemp's desk.

Georgia is currently one of four states in the U.S. without hate crime laws.

The price Republicans exacted for moving that legislation forward was the simultaneous passage of a bill that would mandate penalties for crimes targeting police and other first responders.

The action comes after Senate Republicans had added police as a protected class to the hate crimes legislation last week, but then moved those protections to a separate bill in a deal between the parties.

Governor Kemp's office said in a statement that he'd sign the hate crimes bill, pending a legal review.

The bill's passage comes amid weeks-long protests against systemic racism throughout the country. The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis after bystander video showed an officer kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The passage also comes weeks after three arrests were made in connection with the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. The 25-year-old Arbery was killed in Burnswick, Georgia in February, and his case changed jurisdictions several times due to one of the suspect's connections with the local District Attorney's office.

It wasn't until days after a video of the altercation leaked to the public in May that two of the men, Gregory and Travis McMichael, were arrested and charged with murder. A third man, William “Roddy” Bryan, was also charged with murder a few weeks later. – AP