written by Gloria Tatum………………………………….
On Sunday, February 23, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man was jogging on the shaded streets of Satilla Shores with Spanish Moss hanging from ancient live oak trees. Arbery, an avid jogger, was about two miles from his Brunswick home when two armed white men in a pickup chased, shot, and killed him.
How Did This Happen?
Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator with the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office and a retired Glynn County police officer, was worried about alleged robberies in the neighborhood and people trespassing on a home construction site near his home. He volunteered to keep an eye on that construction site. The police agreed and sent McMichale’s phone number to Larry English, the property owner.
McMichael’s son, Travis McMichael, called 911 on February 11 and reported seeing a man enter the house under construction.
English installed motion-sensor security cameras that recorded everyone who trespassed on the construction site. He said that nothing was stolen, and did not report the February 11 incident to the police, as reported on CNN.
About two weeks later, Gregory McMichael saw a Black man running down the street. McMichael thought this man was the trespasser and might be involved in break-ins and robberies in the neighborhood. He called his son, Travis, and they grabbed their guns and jumped into a pickup and chased after Arbery who was on his daily jog.
Another neighbor William Bryan joined in the chase and filmed the attack and shooting of Arbery.
According to the video, Arbery tries to run around McMichael’s pickup stopped in the middle of the road. Travis gets out, holding his shotgun, and moves to the front of the pickup while Greg stands in the bed of the truck with his.357 gun raised. As Arbery jogs by, he is confronted by Travis and they struggle over the shotgun. Three shots ring out and Arbery collapses in the street and dies from close-range gunshots to his chest.
Later the McMichaels claimed they were acting within Georgia’s citizen arrest law and self-defense statutes because of break-ins and robberies in the neighborhood and believed that Arbery was responsible.
Georgia law allows civilians to pursue a suspect if they see a crime being committed and make an arrest until law enforcement arrives. Also, the Stand Your Ground Law allows a person to kill another person if they fear for their life.
These two laws are mainly used against people of color who are killed by white men and not the other way around.
The men assumed, without any proof, that Arbery was a criminal responsible for robberies in the Satilla Shores neighborhood and for trespassing on the construction site. But according to police records, no burglary reports had been filed for months in the neighborhood except for a gun stolen from Travis’ pickup.
Arbery’s crime was jogging unarmed while Black in a predominantly white neighborhood, visiting a construction site that numerous white people visited, and trying to get away from two white men who chased him down, threatened him with guns and killed him.
Nothing was taken from the construction site and none of the white people who trespassed on the construction site were chased down, threatened with guns, or killed.
“We are deeply troubled by the senseless violence against black life in this country…. Ahmaud is being remembered as the latest victim of racial terrorism. Gregory and Travis McMichael admittedly pursued Ahmaud, who was unarmed, with two weapons and shot him dead,” Rev. James Woodall, State President of Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said in a press release.
The killing of Ahmaud Arbery is reminiscent of many other murders the nation has witnessed for years – like Trayvon Martin, Anthony Hill, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Gardner, Nicholas Thomas, Kendrick Johnson, Kevin Davis, Cain Rogers, Jamarion Robison, and George Floyd to name a few of the thousands of Black lives lost to police and vigilante violence. https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed.
No Arrests for Months, Public Outrage, and District Attorney Recusals
The McMichaels were not arrested until months later. Probably because the “good ole boys network” was working and they did not want to arrest one of their own. The Blue Wall of Silence protects their own regardless if they are right or wrong, as social justice activists have observed this behavior by police for years.
Over the years, Glynn County police officers have been accused of covering up allegations of misconduct, tampering with a crime scene, interfering in an investigation of a police shooting and retaliating against fellow officers who cooperated with outside investigators, as reported in the New York Times.
The Brunswick community soon learned the meaning of “No Justice, No Peace,” as the New Black Panther Party, Streetgroomers, and numerous other organizations from around the state marched on Brunswick to demand the arrest of Arbery’s killers and the resignations of the police officials who allowed the McMichales to walk free.
The Arbery case was first assigned to Jackie Johnson, in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, who recused herself because Gregory McMichael had worked in her office. Then it went to George Barnhill, District Attorney for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, who recused himself because his son worked with McMichael. Barnhill wrote that there was not enough probable cause to arrest the McMichaels.
The video that was filmed by William Bryan was leaked on social media and went viral on the internet and sparked outrage throughout the country and demands for the McMichaels to be arrested.
Community leaders, the NAACP, and attorneys for Arbery’s family, Lee Merritt, and Ben Crump called for the McMichaels to be arrested.
A third prosecutor, Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, who does not know the McMichaels was appointed and took over the case.
Durden assigns the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) to investigate the shooting of Arbery. After the GBI got involved, the McMichaels – both father and son – were arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney, stated in news reports that the full video evidence shows all three men chased Arbery for over four minutes before they trapped and killed him.
The GBI next arrests Bryan on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment of Arbery.
Durden steps aside, as Attorney General Chris Carr names Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Homes as the fourth prosecutor for the Arbery case.
A preliminary hearing is set for June 4 for the three men charged in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
The latest development is that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the death of Arbery as a possible hate crime, according to multiple reports.
Georgia’s Citizens Arrest & Stand Your Ground Are Racist at Their Core
Greg McMichale joins thousands of Georgians who for over 150 years have used Georgia’s antiquated and racist “citizens arrest” law to kill African Americans.
It was encoded in Georgia law in1863 to empower white slave owners to track down and return runaway slaves and to keep the enslaved Black population under control.
After the Civil War, “citizen’s arrest” supported Ku Klux Klan violence against Black Georgians. The killing and lynching of Blacks in Georgia by white mobs making “citizen’s arrests” have a long and gruesome history, according to Alan Singer, a historian and professor.
On July 25, 1946, two African American couples were shot over sixty times, at Moore’s Ford in Walton County, Georgia by a mob of white men making a “citizen’s arrest”.
Citizens arrest laws have been revived over the years but are still racist at its core.
Another racist law is Stand Your Ground that encourages armed vigilantes. It allows a person to kill another person in a public area even when they can clearly and safely walk away from the danger. George Zimmerman used this law to chase down and murder Trayvon Martin, a young black man walking home after buying candy at a store.
As the nation demands justice for yet another senseless killing of a Black man, a few Georgia lawmakers are calling for a repeal of Georgia’s Stand Your Ground and citizen’s arrest laws which disproportionately impacts communities of color.
Time for Change and Police Accountability
These murders will not end until people of all colors stand up together and demand change. Change in our criminal justice system, change in police policies, change in policies that criminalize people for poverty, addiction, homelessness, mental illness and hundreds of minor violations that should never be a crime. Change our elected officials who don’t support legislation to hold police and white supremacists accountable when they murder African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.
Too many police are above the law and this must stop! Too many Black men are killed for being black and this must stop! “Stop Killing Us,” protesters shout in the Streets of America.