“That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia / That’s the night that they hung an innocent man / Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer / ‘Cause the judge in the town’s got blood stains on his hands.”
~ Vicki Lawrence song
By now, we have all seen and/or heard about the Glynn County (Satilla Shores) killing in February of an innocent black man (Ahmaud Arbery) by two very well-connected white men (Gregory and Travis McMichael), with the alleged assistance of another (William “Roddie” Bryan) who filmed the event. However, the media coverage has mostly gone away.
If you haven’t seen the video, it shows Arbery peacefully jogging down a street. Up ahead is a pickup blocking the road, with one man in the bed of the pick-up and another on the ground. Both are carrying guns. When the unarmed Arbery tries to jog around the vehicle, he’s attacked and shot down in cold blood. According to GBI investigators, Travis shot him and then called him a “f***ing n***er” as he lay dying.
White bigots in Georgia just shoot unarmed black men now rather than hanging them, but Arbrey’s Dad is correct, it’s a lynching all the same.
I would like to say that I’m surprised, but I’m not. Or, say that this is a unique occurrence, but it isn’t. After all, the Trayvon Martin murder in Florida was similar to this one, although not on film. And the shooter, George Zimmerman, is still walking around free while Trayvon lies in his grave.
This killing is disturbing enough, but like the song says, the local officials appear to be neck deep in a conspiracy to brush the shooting under the rug. The original prosecutor recused herself because, up until last year, one of the killers worked for her. The next prosecutor, DA George Barnhill of the Waycross District, inexplicably decided that arrest warrants would not be issued for the McMichaels due to “insufficient probable cause” given our state’s open carry and self-defense laws
Under Georgia law, self-defense is defined as follows: “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury … or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
Arbery was not attacking anyone or committing a crime. He was just jogging and then trying to get away from three people (including the guy filming it).
What an obvious farce and miscarriage of justice by the Glynn and Waycross judicial district authorities who have yet to be held fully accountable for their actions. To his credit, the state AG is looking into the situation for legal evidence of impropriety.
Again, this situation is extremely disturbing but not surprising when you understand the background details. Gregory McMichael was a former Glynn County police officer and long-time investigator for the Glynn County DA’s office, retiring in 2019. He apparently was called by local law enforcement when Arbrey was seen in the neighborhood.
It wasn’t until the case was taken away from the locals in Glynn and Waycross that the situation was objectively investigated by the GBI rather than simply covered up. We should again note that Arbery was killed way back in February.
Why the case was moved is clear. The video of the crime was made public via a local radio station. The local community, especially the NAACP, began to question how justice was being delivered in Glynn.
The Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr, then moved the case to the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, and a new DA was assigned. The new DA got the GBI involved. To the GBI’s and DA’s credit, felony murder charges were finally filed on May 8, 2020. Now yet another DA, the Cobb County DA (Joyette Holmes, a respected African American), is handling this “hot potato” case, which has received national attention.
What this situation tells the world is that if you are a white man in Georgia, you can probably get away with shooting an innocent black man. That is unless the victim’s family has a good lawyer and the NAACP behind them and can get a lot of negative national publicity shining a negative light on the local authorities. Oh, and have a video clearly showing the senseless killing (note: Glynn authorities had it the day of the shooting but never released it).
On June 26, 2020, Georgia finally enacted a hate crime law (crime based on race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national origin, mental disability, or physical disability). But at the time of the murder, we were one of four states without a hate crimes law. A similar Georgia bill passed in 2000 under a Democrat Governor was declared unconstitutionally vague.
The real question is why were we still one of the four in 2020? The time for a hate crimes law was yesterday…and the century before that.