Erika Maye, Color Of Change: It’s been one year since Ahmaud Arbery was murdered

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(OAKLAND, CA) -One year ago, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging near his neighborhood in Brunswick, GA when he was chased down, shot, and killed in cold blood.

His executioners were father & son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, two white men, who told police they believed Ahmaud fit the profile of a suspect. But the truth is: Ahmaud’s murder was an act rooted in hate and white supremacy.

Videos of Ahmaud’s murder went viral on social media, initiating a public outcry where millions gathered on the streets to demand justice for Ahmaud and his family. Since then, Georgia officials arrested Ahmaud’s murderers, Gregory and Travis McMichael, and DA Jackie Johnson was voted out of office. Nevertheless, Ahmaud’s family is still waiting for real justice.

Donald, Black people should be able to go for a jog without fearing for their lives. That’s why we’re continuing in our fight to end the systemic practices that allowed for Ahmaud Arbery’s life to be stolen in the first place.

Sign the petition: Demand Gov. Brian Kemp repeals the Georgia Citizen’s arrest act NOW.

Georgia has a Civil-War era Citizen’s Arrest law which allows private citizens to arrest someone if they have immediate knowledge or reasonable suspicion that the person has committed a crime. The law was written by secessionists and took effect in 1863 right after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

Importantly, it provided the “legal” shield that allowed white mobs to kidnap and lynch Black people under the guise of stopping an illegal act. It allows white supremacists like the McMichaels to justify their acts of violence and vigilantism.

Governor Brian Kemp recently unveiled legislation that would overhaul the citizen’s arrest law, now more than ever we must keep up the pressure to ensure this law is gone for good.

Ahmaud’s death is akin to a modern-day lynching. Enough is enough. Join over 650,000 Color of Change members who’ve signed the petition. We are calling on Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to ensure the citizen’s arrest law is repealed NOW.

 

ADD YOUR NAME. DEMAND JUSTICE FOR AHMAUD

 

Until justice is real,

Erika and the rest of the Color of Change team

P.S. Read our original email below.


 

Ahmaud Arbery was murdered in cold blood over two months ago.   

DAs Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill justified and enabled Ahmaud’s killers. Demand they resign NOW.

TAKE ACTION

 

Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging near his neighborhood in Brunswick, GA when he was chased down, shot, and killed in cold blood.1 

His executioners were a father & son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, two white men, who told police they believed Ahmaud fit the profile of a suspect in a series of break-ins in the area.2 The entire thing was filmed by a third person, Bryan Williams. But the truth is: Ahmaud’s murder was an act of hatred and white supremacy.

Worst of all, the two DAs who’ve recused themselves, District Attorney Jackie Johnson and District Attorney George Barnhill, played a key role in a blatant cover-up and delays in justice for Ahmaud and his family. DA Barnhill even defended Ahmaud’s murderers by making the outrageous claim that Travis McMichael acted in self-defense and his actions fell within Georgia’s citizen arrest laws.3

Instead of seeking justice, DA Johnson refused to bring charges against Ahmaud’s killers and DA Barnhill abused his authority to exonerate the McMichaels in the media.4 Police are quick to arrest and throw our people in cages, but when we are killed, it’s crickets for months from the legal system. For their complicity, both District Attorney Gregory Barnhill and District Attorney Jackie Johnson must immediately resign. 

Sign the petition. Demand DA George Barnhill & DA Jackie Johnson resign immediately.

Glynn County law enforcement is doing everything it can to ensure the McMichaels get away with Ahmaud’s murder. Gregory McMichael is a retired police officer who worked with DA Barnhill’s son in District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office.5 In the moments leading up to Ahmaud’s death, the McMichaels stated they saw him stop by a house that was under construction and look through the window.6 But you actually have to be observing a crime or be in the immediate knowledge of a crime for self-defense or citizen laws to be applicable.7 Ahmaud was not committing a crime, he was jogging. Any effort to use citizen’s arrest or self-defense as an excuse for Ahmaud’s murder is a weak attempt to cover-up this injustice.

What’s clear is Gregory McMichael’s former affiliation with the local DAs office is allowing him to escape accountability. The McMichaels grabbed their shotgun and a pistol, chased Ahmaud in their truck, and when Ahmaud attempted to defend himself he was shot twice and killed. Nevertheless, Ahmaud’s case has been tossed from one DA’s office to the next. Every step along the way the police have been quick to shift the blame away from the McMichaels. Police even told Ahmaud’s mother that her son was involved in a burglary and there was a confrontation between Ahmaud and the homeowner and a struggle over a gun.8 THESE ARE LIES. Glynn County law enforcement has been quick to do nothing but ensure the McMichael’s are not held for this atrocity.

White supremacy and corruption are running rampant in Glynn County– and both DA Barnhill and DA Johnson are perpetuating it. In his letter to the Glynn County police, Barnhill stated, “it appears {Travis and Gregory McMichael’s} intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia law, it is perfectly legal.”Barnhill also went on to falsely claim that Ahmaud was prone to violence and that there was no need for arrest.10 It is because of Barnhill’s suggestions to police that two months have gone by without an arrest or any form of accountability. Now, Tom Durden of Liberty County has finally decided to bring the case to a grand jury — which doesn’t convene until after June 2.11 And even he is doing his part to delay justice. Durden could issue an arrest warrant right now on a complementary charge if he wanted to, he doesn’t need an indictment.12 Instead, he continues to protect the vigilantes’ rights to utilize their weapons and their power to end Black lives.

DA Jackie Johnson is known for letting corrupt officers off the hook. During her first six years in office, she had at least 16 cases where she’s recused herself because of conflict of interest.13 In 2010 she protected an officer who later went on to murder his ex-wife and then himself.14 And earlier this year three former top officers and the police chief were indicted for ignoring evidence that an officer was working with drug dealers —  one was having sex with two confidential informants.15 The lack of police accountability in Glynn County has reached a fever pitch. Voters are even considering getting rid of the police department for good.16 And this year Johnson is vulnerable because she is up for re-election.17 Elected leaders must take the necessary steps to ensure our people are protected and free to live without fear of violence and destruction. That’s why now more than ever, both DA Barnhill and Johnson must feel the pressure from us to resign. They need to know we are on to them — we won’t allow this corruption to continue in Glynn County.

DA Barnhill and DA Johnson have got to go. Sign the petition. 

Every second Ahmaud’s executioners evade accountability shows just how little Glynn County law enforcement cares about Black lives. Under no circumstance should it be acceptable for these men to roam the streets and relax in their homes while Ahmaud’s family and community continue to mourn the premature loss of their son and loved one. Black communities deserve protection — not to be preyed upon and hunted down in the street.

The most painful part of this injustice has been the fact that Ahmaud’s murder took place almost eight years to the day after Trayvon Martin was slain by a racist vigilante. Time and time again, our communities face the highest rates of state-sanctioned violence — whether it’s mass incarceration, police killings, ‘stop and frisk,’ or the all too familiar rhetoric of broken windows policing. Ahmaud’s death is just another disturbing example of a violent society that marks Blackness as inherently dangerous — where Black people are more likely to be seen as instigators rather than people in need of help in times of danger.

Demanding DA Barnhill and Johnson to resign is crucial to getting the justice Ahmaud deserves. Our leaders must stop treating Black lives as if we are disposable. We must stand up to this racist terror and that starts with holding local prosecutors accountable. Enough is enough. We are demanding justice for Ahmaud — we refuse to lose any more of our loved ones to these reckless acts of violence.

Ahmaud deserves justice. Demand DA Barnhill & DA Johnson resign NOW. 

Until justice is real,

–Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Clarise, Erika, Malachi, Marybeth, Madison, Leonard, Cheryl, and the rest of the Color of Change team


References:

1. 2 Suspects charged with murder in Ahmaud Arbery shooting. New York Times. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/246407?t=8&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

2. County Commissioner claimed DA Johnson blocked arrest of McMichaels. Brunswick News. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/246416?t=10&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

3. “A Georgia man was chased and killed while jogging, his mother says.” CNN. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245948?t=12&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

4. Ibid.

5. George E. Barnhill Letter to Glynn County Police Department. NYT. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245949?t=14&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

6. #iRunwithMaud. Our Prism. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245950?t=16&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

7. George E. Barnhill Letter to Glynn County Police Department. NYT. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245949?t=18&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

8. “A Georgia man was chased and killed while jogging, his mother says.” CNN. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245948?t=20&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. George E. Barnhill Letter to Glynn County Police Department. NYT. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245949?t=22&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

12. Ibid.

13. “Status of Liberty County Jury Trials.” Liberty County Office of the Clerk of Courts. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245954?t=24&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

14.#iRunwithMaud. Our Prism. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245950?t=26&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. “Glynn County police chief, 3 ex-officers booked into jail.” News 4 Jax. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245952?t=28&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

18. “Legislation first step to abolishing county police department.” The Brunswick News. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245953?t=30&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

19. #iRunwithMaud. Our Prism. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/245950?t=32&akid=49298%2E3506444%2EqI3sFf

  


ColorOfChange is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change.

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