It has happened again. A young Black man jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, a short distance away from his home, was stalked and killed by White men alleging self-defense. A video has surfaced showing that on February 23, 2020, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by a father/son duo, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, who took it upon themselves to stalk and kill Arbery because there had been a previous burglary in the area.
According to an online May 10, 2020 New York Times article titled, “What We Know About the Shooting Death of Ahmaud Arbery” by Richard Fausset, “In a recording of a 911 call, which appears to have been made moments before the chase began, a neighbor told a dispatcher that a Black man was inside a house that was under construction on the McMichael family’s block. During the chase, the McMichaels yelled, ‘Stop, stop, we want to talk to you,’ according to Gregory McMichael’s account in the police report. They then pulled up to Mr. Arbery, and Travis McMichael got out of the truck with the shotgun.”
The video clearly shows Arbery jogging past the truck, crossing in front of it, and emerging struggling with Travis McMichael. Three shots were then heard, and Arbery fell to the ground. All of this is just coming to light even though the event took place a little over two months ago.
It turns out that Gregory McMichael, the dad, had been previously employed as a police officer and former investigator with the Glynn County GA local district attorney’s office. The original prosecutor from that office has recused herself from the case because of her association with McMichael. It is alleged by some that this is why McMichael was not initially arrested.
Thanks to the video and a huge public outcry, however, things have changed. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, the alleged shooter, have been arrested and charged with murder.
This whole ordeal brings to mind what happened to Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Florida teen who was stalked and gunned down by a former neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted after a murder trial on the grounds of self-defense.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were also not immediately charged because they were acting within Georgia’s citizen arrest and self-defense statutes. In both cases the victims were not breaking the law, but were stalked by those taking the law into their own hands, claiming “self-defense.” Furthermore, what both cases have in common is that White men saw an opportunity to vent their racist urges. In the Trayvon Martin case, Zimmerman got off and was not convicted of Trayvon Martin’s murder.
This whole situation is a travesty.
There is a long list of unarmed African Americans wantonly murdered by White people. In an online 2015 article, Mapping Police Violence, it was reported that at least 104 unarmed Black people were killed by police during that year. Only 13 of the 104 cases resulted in the officers being convicted of a crime, and NONE were sentenced to serve more than four years in prison.
The report also says that unarmed Black people were killed by police at five times the rate of unarmed Whites in 2015! This is an indication that there is a real problem with the murdering of Black people in America.
The current matter regarding Ahmaud Arbery is instructive in several ways.
This killing would not have been brought to light had there not been a videotape of it, and the McMichael duo would have not been arrested had there not been a huge public outcry from civil rights activists, lawmakers, and celebrities.
Interestingly, at press time, new information has surfaced that would urge people to not rush to judgment and to wait and see how the new details impact the case. If it turns out to be true that the initial allegations about the unwarranted actions of the McMichael father and son are true, then people should demand that justice is served and an appropriate sentence be given.
We are at a crossroads—if this case turns out to actually be deemed a murder, the community should act to avoid the outcomes of similar past cases, i.e., people getting away with the crimes. If we don’t act, the Black community will be sending a loud, clear message that it’s all right to kill Black people without repercussions and that Black Lives Do Not Matter!
We must change that narrative and fight back with our dollars and (common) sense!
(Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader)