On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging when he was shot and killed in broad daylight. The men allegedly responsible for Arbery’s death remained on the scene until police arrived. According to police reports, those men claimed they were making a citizen’s arrest on Arbery. In turn, Arbery, who was unarmed, attacked them making the killing a justified act of self-defense, they said.
With warm blood on the ground, no arrests were made that day. As Arbery’s family mourned and demanded answers, no arrests were made the next day, the next week, the next month or the month after that. In essence, the inaction of the Glynn County Police Department answered Arbery’s parents, in question form – why should the men responsible for your son’s death be arrested?
If you can’t disprove the word of a white person, that’s it, go home, we’re sorry for your loss. Those men had apparently gotten away with murder.
Oh wait, there was a video of the incident and it wasn’t recorded by an innocent bystander but by one of the men allegedly involved. Really? The tape was leaked to the public on May 5th and arrests were made two days later.
Fast forward to the present day and the court drama is getting ready for broadcast. We’ve seen this show before and this week’s episode is jury selection. When police are the triggermen, the story usually doesn’t even get this far. But since the three men on trial are civilians, the performances tend to go longer.
The casting of 12 jurors will most likely take a few weeks since the small Georgia county is made up of less than a hundred thousand residents. Out of the first eight potential jurors selected, two have qualified to advance despite having admitted to knowing the defendants. Unlike a theatrical production, we do not see the faces of these supporting actors despite their crucial role in determining the story’s outcome.
What used to make America great for white people (especially those in the South) was the rigged fulfillment of an all-white jury. A trial was just a formality to uphold the appearance of law. I can only imagine the countless winks given between white jurors and white defendants. Some may have even admired the defendant as a heroic exterminator in a shared belief of the country being a better place with one less n-gger.
Black people have seen more than our fair share of white celebration as the system works in favor of acquittals. Images of back-patting, handshakes and handing out cigars are vivid in the evolution of black & white to living color. While we’ve all been voyeurs to Lady Justice’s corrupt ways of prostitution and miscarriage consequence, it’s only Black people who have had to endure the vulgar insult of “this has nothing to do with race.”
If America is not a racist country, why is the jury selection such a fickle negotiation of all things race-related? If the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage not hate, why should it matter if it’s displayed on the defendant’s truck? Why have I never seen a vehicle with both a Confederate flag and a Black Lives Matter sticker? Please show me that F150.
Still, we’re forced to sit through scenes of racial semantics where clear hate sentiments get masqueraded as Dukes of Hazzard fandom. This sets the stage for spin, manipulation and persuasion. Lawyers throw laterals to the jury to make it appear the term “rubber lips” is a colloquial expression for a liar so that when people like Jon Gruden write an email about a Black man having lips the size of Michelin tires, the reference can be interpreted as non-racial.
This heritage is largely defined by the unwritten right to harass, terrorize and kill Black people without hard consequences. However, the omnipresence of cell phones is a monkey wrench in cover-up mechanics. A small matter of record is all that’s needed for whiteness to work wonders. Still, when the existential threat of emerging video contradicts the white lie, it usually doesn’t succumb to guilt, it resorts to other tactics of manipulation.
This brings us right back to the jury and the construct of law –based on primal fear. The playbook for low-tech lynching is always the same: When you can’t prove white innocence, prove white victimization. There will always be an implied notion that any unarmed, outnumbered Black man has the advantage of a wild animal.
I often wonder if the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial would have been the same if there was video. I think about the one non-white juror and whether she identified with Zimmerman’s racial assimilation. I think about when Rachel Jeantel (Trayvon Martin’s friend) took the stand. I think about her appearance and vernacular and if anyone on that jury related to her. I think about her testimonial of being on the phone with Trayvon as he was being hunted and how his accurate description of the hunter resonated with universal understanding among Black folk. To us, any white man obsessed with following us while we’re minding our own business is a “Creepy-Ass Cracker.” And just like that, Trayvon and the weight of American history was on trial because the jury might’ve subconsciously felt attacked, now perceiving him as the threat.
These reboots are draining to watch. The storyline is the same and so are the methods; gerrymandered legislation that allows a loophole for white exemption. While I’m somewhat comforted by the fact the men involved in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery also face federal charges, the tactic of white supremacy has rarely been to prove their innocence – it’s to prove that we’re guilty – of breathing in America.
Trevor is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist born and raised on Beale Street. Follow him on Twitter @trevbetter.
A Disturbing Timeline Of Ahmaud Arbery's Killing And Murder Investigation In Georgia
1. October 20191 of 47
2. November 2019
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This video is from 11/17. Larry English called 911 on 11/18 and said he had a problem with "other people" the night before. This appears to show that day and is from English's attorney. There is no record of neighbors calling 911 this day, based off records from Glynn Co 911 pic.twitter.com/BXlyYEaBcL— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 15, 2020
3. Dec. 20, 2019
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Police told the homeowner where #AhmaudArbery was last seen to contact Greg McMichael if his cameras caught someone on his property. McMichael in turn gathered a posse & began hunting for Ahmaud, or someone who fit his description, catching up with him on 2/23/20– killing him. pic.twitter.com/BmlmW636f5— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 16, 2020
4. Dec. 20, 2019
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This is the man that set the plan in motion that led to the murder of #AhmaudArbery.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 18, 2020
ROBERT RASH is a Glynn County Police Officer.
He instructed a homeowner to contact Gregory McMichael to deal w/ trespassers.
McMichael and his son formed a posse and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/ZqZg567Agp
5. Feb. 11, 2020
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Larry English’s attorney gave me this video from Feb 11. It shows the incident outlined in my story when Travis McMichael called 911 and saw someone in the home. On 2/23, he and his father thought the Abrery was who they saw on the 11th pic.twitter.com/C2gVJCJ3xQ— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 14, 2020
6. Feb. 23Source:Getty 6 of 47
7. Feb. 27, 2020
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This is the DA who blocked the arrest of 2 white supremacist TERRORISTS after they murdered an innocent black man execution style while he was jogging in his neighborhood— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 9, 2020
JACKIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBSTRUCTING & ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF BLACK MEN
ARREST HER pic.twitter.com/ngSIEGMCq1
8. Feb. 27, 20208 of 47
9. Feb. 29, 2020Source:Getty 9 of 47
10. March 2020
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If you’re wondering why no charges were initially filed on the murderers of #AhmaudArbery, it’s because D.A. George Barnhill immediately concluded Arbery was a criminal & that he attacked the men who were hunting him.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 7, 2020
This is letter Barnhill sent to the Brunswick authorities pic.twitter.com/vsGCboful7
11. April 2, 2020
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Police report sheds more light on Satilla Shores shooting https://t.co/Zi6YVGTkhK— The Brunswick News (@Brunswick_News) April 2, 2020
12. April 3, 202012 of 47
13. April 1313 of 47
14. April 26, 2020
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We’ll never know how often Black life is taken, justice denied:— Dr. Malinda S. Smith (@MalindaSmith) May 9, 2020
“Two Weapons, a Chase, a Killing and No Charges.
A 25-year-old man running through a Georgia neighborhood ended up dead. A prosecutor argued that the pursuers should not be arrested” @nytimes https://t.co/pJA6kSK6cj
15. April 28, 202015 of 47
16. May 5, 202016 of 47
17. May 5, 202017 of 47
18. May 7, 202018 of 47
19. May 8, 202019 of 47
20. May 8, 2020
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On what would have been his 26th birthday, people were jogging 2.23 miles in his honor to signify the date he was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who racially profiled and shot the jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. #IrunwithMaud #IRunwithAhmaudhttps://t.co/V2KuBaeKjx— NewsOne (@newsone) May 9, 2020
21. May 9, 2020Source:Getty 21 of 47
22. May 10, 202022 of 47
23. May 11, 2020
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Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
24. May 12, 2020Source:Twitter 24 of 47
25. May 13, 2020
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“Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them,” reads the note. “I am so sorry.” The card was not signed by a name and no more information or context was provided, including when the card was left there. https://t.co/nzzY5aNple— NewsOne (@newsone) May 14, 2020
26. May 14, 2020Source:Getty 26 of 47
27. May 18, 2020
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Because this story wasn't bad enough now we discover Lindsay McMichael, the daughter and sister of Ahmaud Arbery’s alleged killers, posted a picture of Ahmaud’s deceased body to snapchat pic.twitter.com/RwTwzrAXAG— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) May 19, 2020
28. May 18, 202028 of 47
29. May 20, 2020Source:Getty 29 of 47
30. May 20, 2020
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Today, the GA Congressional Delegation co-signed a letter to U.S. AG William Barr and Asst AG Eric Dreiband, encouraging the use of “all possible Federal resources to achieve full justice, transparency, and accountability in the case of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.” https://t.co/8FcMZEEKWF— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 20, 2020
31. May 21, 2020Source:WJAX 31 of 47
32. May 25, 2020
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NEW: Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery's parents announce that the Department of Justice will be investigating Arbery's killing and why it took so long to arrest the people responsible. See their statement here: pic.twitter.com/yfcnrT5SjV— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) May 26, 2020
33. June 2020
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Reports of a photo op with the president or standing with the White House during the EO signing are false.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) June 16, 2020
Show me the civil rights leaders who are upset about families making a direct appeal for federal intervention after the murder of their loved one & I’ll show you a clown. pic.twitter.com/GXR5arB8Mz
34. June 17, 2020Source:WJAX 34 of 47
35. November 2020Source:Getty 35 of 47
36. December 2020
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William ‘Roddie’ Bryan tried to publicly absolve himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, but this newly released bodycam footage confirms what we long suspected: He clearly used his truck to block Ahmaud's escape from the McMichaels! pic.twitter.com/UAms4LYS28— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 15, 2020
37. January 2021Source:Getty 37 of 47
38. February 2021Source:Getty 38 of 47
39. Feb. 23, 2021Source:Getty 39 of 47
40. April 2021Source:Getty 40 of 47
41. May 2021Source:Getty 41 of 47
42. September 2021
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This is the mugshot of disgraced District Attorney Jackie Johnson who was just arrested today for her role in the coverup of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/OKF2xKkV3Z— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) September 8, 2021
43. October 2021Source:Getty 43 of 47
44. November 11, 2021Source:Getty 44 of 47
45. November 11, 2021
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Gough is big mad because Al Sharpton sat in the courtroom yesterday.— Serene🦉 (@MythSerene) November 11, 2021
He literally says, "We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here-"
Then something abt Jesse Jackson?
"If a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Col Sanders w/ white masks..."
WTF Gough? #AhmaudArbery pic.twitter.com/GZUb4dNwRJ