Immediately after the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in the street in Glynn County Georgia by Gregory Michael and his son Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael (a former police investigator) took over the crime scene investigation. There is little evidence that the police officers who arrived at the scene did much besides follow Gregory McMichael’s suggestions.
They allowed him to take over the situation.
For example, G. McMichael was not separated from the other men involved in the crime. He repeatedly told his son (who pulled the trigger) “You had to do it. You had to do it.” In other words, say this is self defense, boy.
Police arrived within minutes of the shooting, but Greg McMichael and Travis Michael and the buddy in the chase, William Bryan, were allowed to roam around the crime scene, talk to each other and to other people, including witnesses like Diego Perez. Their trucks were never searched. The trucks they had used to chase down Arbery and hem him in were never even made part of the crime scene.
Even though police were on the scene, Gregory McMichael can be seen taking to his son, William Bryan and Diego Perez a witness to the crime. Even when an officer was trying to interview Greg McMichael, an unidentified white male just strolled up and started talking to McMichael. When the prosecutor asked the Glynn County Police (GCP) officer why he had allowed this, he said: “I don’t have a good answer for that.”
When the same officer was talking to someone from the Coroner’s office, Greg McMichael walked up and interrupted and started telling her what, in his version, happened. The officer did not stop this.
No. The officer did not have a good answer for why he allowed McMichael to talk to other people and come up and interrupt a conversation the officer was trying to have with the coroner. And, the GCP still don’t have a good answer for why they failed to secure the crime scene, allowed the assailants to leave the scene, change clothes and eventually go home.
In the aftermath of an event in which three men chased down a young black man because they thought he might have stolen something, thought he might have hurt somebody, thought he was up to no good, thought he might be on drugs, the GCP made no arrests, detained none of the men involved. They interviewed them and sent them home.
When Greg McMichael was being interviewed by the GCP he directed them about what to do. He told them they needed to go out and canvas the neighborhood because Arbery might have gone in somebody’s house. Gregory McMichaels says in his statement: “he might have gone in somebody’s house.” Officers, instructed by a man who was involved in the crime, dutifully went out and canvassed the neighborhood to see who else thought Arbery had committed a crime. In the meantime, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, went home.
They stayed at home and would never have been prosecuted if the GBI hadn’t taken over the case.
What happened in Satilla Shores in late 2019 and 2020, was what sociologists call a “moral panic.”
Neighbors in an almost exclusively white neighborhood started exchanging stories of supposedly stolen property, break ins. They posted these stories on the internet, specifically on a website that was a neighborhood sharing site.
They were drawn in and drew other people into a dramatic narrative. There was danger in the neighborhood.
People just like drama, most of them. And, this is a culture where crime drama is big business. Just think of the amount of money that is made off marketing crime, true and fiction.
There are entire TV networks that depend on crime for their cash stream. Think about Court TV, Headline News and all the reality crime shows like Cops. Think about the fictional crime series, Law and Order which I think is in it’s 100th season. People love a good crime drama.
In Satilla Shores, in late 2019 and into 2020, there was a great crime drama shaping up. The problem was that it was largely in the minds of the residents.
Larry English was building a house in Satilla Shores. He had been working on that house for over two years. The house was framed in, but without doors and windows at least in the front of the house. English did not live there. He lived in Douglasville and commuted back and forth to Brunswick to work on his house.
The house was completely open. There were no trespassing signs on it. There was no fence, there was essentially nothing to prevent any remotely curious person from coming in and walking around.
And, curious people did.
Larry English had had his boat parked at the house, in the opened RV garage. One day, when English got up on a ladder, he noticed that items had been stolen out of his boat. He then began telling neighbors that these items had been stolen. The problem was that English had not always had the boat parked at the property at Satilla Shores. He had taken the boat back and forth from Douglasville (and I presume other places). So, English had no idea that the property was stolen from the location at Satilla Shores.
But, either English didn’t make that clear to the neighbors, or they didn’t want to hear that. They started buzzing about things being stolen, intruders who might possibly be in the neighborhood.
Also during this time period, a neighbor down the street, Travis McMichael, left his gun in his truck, parked outside his house. His father, Greg, went out to move the truck and left it unlocked. The gun was reportedly stolen. This also set off a buzz in the neighborhood. A gun had been stolen, high drama.
I do not know, but I can imagine that in this circumstance, every other item that went missing in the neighborhood came to be yet another potentially stolen item, taken by the mysterious intruder, hyping the danger in the minds of the community.
A woman whose parents lived in the neighborhood testified on November 10, 2021 that her elderly parents were concerned about the amount of crime in the neighborhood and were therefore selling their house. But, when you look at the official Glynn County data, this crime wave does not appear. There was only one officer assigned to the entire area and it was considered a “low call” area for the police. 
But anyone can imagine how this worked. The drama grew. Items went missing. Neighbors had something to talk about, post about. All of a sudden, people had a mission, an endeavor that was larger than all of them and that united them in a common cause.
In steps Ahmaud Arbery, doing what I and countless people have done hundreds of times before, and walks into the open construction site to look around. I want to make clear here. I grew up in Georgia. I live in Georgia now. I have gone in a number of partially completed houses while out on a walk. I have also gone in repeatedly to a house that was completed and had a door that was unlocked. But, I am a 70-year-old white woman. I am not a young black man with “dred locks” “fuzzy hair” “tatoos all down both arms” “colored”.
In the middle of all this drama, the perfect victim walked in. Every racist joke and stereotyped reaction came to play to home in on this one young black man. “Ya got ‘em?” That’s what William Bryan shouted out to the two McMichael men in their truck following Arbery down the street.
The crime drama was about to be solved by two, then three, self imagined heroes. “Ya got ‘em?” Oh hell yeah, we got him. These three men did what thousands and thousands of white men have done over the years in this country. They targeted a young black man, armed themselves and hunted him down, they cornered him “like a rat.”  And then they killed him.
These men saw themselves as the avenging angels in this story. You can still tell by looking at them that they feel that they are ones who are aggrieved here. They are the ones who have been wronged.
Travis McMichael stood over the body of Ahmaud Arbery and expostulated “Damn Nigger.”  Travis McMichael was swearing at Ahmaud Arbery, and/or about Ahmaud Arbery. That N made me do this. It’s all his fault. And that’s exactly what the defense attorneys in this case are arguing.
This is all Arbery’s fault. If he hadn’t been in the neighborhood. If he hadn’t been curious. If he hadn’t run. If he had talked to them. If he hadn’t reached into his pants. If he hadn’t run at Travis. If he had stopped. If he hadn’t been “hauling ass,” nothing would have ever happened. Everything would be alright.
White men commit the most unspeakable crimes and then blame it on the damn victim.
 Much has been made during the trial by the Defense that Greg McMichael is a trained law enforcement officer. Bur, this trained law enforcement officer left a gun in an unlocked truck outside his home. Any neighborhood child could have come and taken the gun and shot himself or others with it.
 When the Prosecution moved to place these official crime statistics into evidence, the defense objected. The official statistics were “hearsay” claimed the defense even though this data was submitted regularly to the FBI and became part of national crime statistics. The prosecution was required to “certify” the information. We do not know how this happens or if the Prosecution will try to put the crime statistics on the record again.
 This is a direct quote from a statement made by Greg McMichael.
 I have never written that word before in my life and I have never said it unless I was describing another person’s statement. I grew up in the South. I know what that word means.
The state’s witness this morning is Larry English who evidently has to testify by video because he has health problems. I would like to point out that his health problems didn’t keep him from starting and participating in this moral panic that men were creating in Satilla Shores over items that MIGHT HAVE been stolen from his property.
I am from Georgia and I now live in Georgia and it has been years, decades since I have heard black people referred to as “colored” and “do what” used as “Pardon” or “What.” It’s like these men lived in a bubble from the past.
The state played the 911 call English made to the Glynn County Police. In it he reports a “colored guy” in describing the trespasser on his property that he can see only in a low-quality surveillance video. He also says that the guy is “tattooed down both arms” and that he is “on drugs.” He can see from this video that the young man is on drugs.
In his testimony after the 911 call was played he said that this was a “spur of the moment” phone call and that he thought Arbery was on drugs because he appeared to be unsteady on his feet. He also claimed that he was phoning in part because he was concerned with Arbery’s safety. It was a dangerous site and someone might fall if they are unfamiliar with the site.
I have still not seen the full body cam footage from Glynn County Officer Duggan in the Ahmaud Arbery case. The defense objected to even showing the video. So, just as the defense tried to keep the public from hearing the questioning of the potential jurors in this case, they tried to keep the pubic from seeing the body of Ahmaud Arbery laying in the street after three white men hunted him down mercilessly with trucks and murdered him in the street.
As I said, I have still not found the complete video footage. This is because most of the media outlets who are live streaming this case, made a decision that “in good taste” they would not show the footage. So, even though the defense motion to keep the video out of evidence was denied, most of the media made a decision for the rest of us that we couldn’t be allowed to see the video.
In most of the live stream, the camera flips back to the face of officer Duggan or Travis McMichael when the most graphic parts of the body cam video are on.
So, a public that watches the most graphic films and plays the most horrendously graphic video games, has to be protected from looking at the real violence that men can inflict when fueled by racism, hatred, toxic masculinity, and glorification of militarism and violence.
Just think for a minute about that situation. The consumption of violence, graphic violence in this culture is endemic, especially among males. But, when a real violent act occurs, the media just decides for the rest of us that we must be shielded from it, protected from it.
As I said, I have not seen the complete video, but the two glimpses of Mr. Arbery laying on the ground after Officer Duggan rolled him over which are in one censored video are enough to turn your stomach.
This young man laying on his back, arms flung out over his head, one arm nearly severed, his chest covered in blood that is still running out onto the pavement is reminiscent of a 1930s mutilation lynching. This is why they are fighting so hard to keep people from seeing it. It looks for all the world like a photograph of a mutilation lynching in the South.
It made my stomach churn and it made me want to cry and it made me angry, really really angry.
This is not a video game. This is not an accidental shooting. This is the result of the intentional behavior of three men.
The defense argued on Friday that these men were doing their “duty.” Bob Reuben argued that they weren’t out there because it was “fun.” No, that’s precisely why they were out there. These are men who enjoyed working themselves into a lather over the theft of some property. They enjoyed pinpointing a black man and blaming all the thefts and problems on him. They enjoyed the excitement of hunting down another human being and killing him in the street.
Men keep guns at the ready for a reason, they like hunting down and killing things that are alive. They enjoy the experience of killing. There is no other reason for a man to go hunting in this day and age. Again, just think about that. These are men who go out of their way to seek a killing experience, whether it’s animals on one day or black people on another.
And men keep guns at the ready because they love the image of themselves as killers. They love the implied power of a gun, especially a big gun. Guns take the place of self esteem. Guns make men feel as if they can exert power over another being any time they wish.
Every person who votes Republican, who votes for a party that uses racism as a way to whip up hatred and votes, who helps prop up this gun culture, who votes to expand gun rights is complicit in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Twelve days before the killing, the McMichaels were told by the police who were on the phone with Larry English (the owner of the house) that the black male who appeared on surveillance videos had never been seen taking anything or doing anything wrong at the vacant building site.
The day of the killing, the McMichaels were at their own home and could not even see the building site. They had no knowledge of any crime or misbehavior at the site. They simply saw a young black man running through their neighborhood, immediately armed themselves and went after the young man.
A neighbor (Bryan) who had had no communication with the McMichaels saw a white truck aggressively pursuing a young black male, jumped in his own truck and participated in hunting the young man down.
Just think about the set of assumptions (the prosecutor called them “driveway decisions”) that would lead three men to immediately, without question, arm themselves and hunt down a young man running through their neighborhood. What kind of person does this?
The kind of person who has viewed African Americans as enemies all their lives. The kind of person who assumes that African Americans, especially black males, are up to no good, probably committing crimes. Gregory McMichals told the police that Arbery had “probably hurt someone” and that’s why they went after him.
Just think about that. If you saw someone jogging through your neighborhood, would you immediately think that they had probably hurt someone? Then would you have had guns at the ready, armed yourself, and pursued the jogger through the neighborhood? Would you have (as did Bryan did) see a pursuit and immediately jumped in your own truck and join in the pursuit, not knowing any of the people involved? Would you have then not only participated in trapping this jogger “like a rat” (quote from Greg McMichaels) and drive at him with your truck repeatedly?
This is a hate crime. It is the crime of men who have guns at the ready, looking for a reason to shoot somebody and that somebody is frequently a person of color. They are men who consider themselves white defenders, ready at any moment to use an excuse to hunt down and kill a black person. This is who these men are.
The prosecution gave a devastating account of the way in which three men chased down a young black man jogging in their neighborhood and shot hi in the street. It is devastating in its cruelty and its purposefulness.
What also is notable is the way in which three men, armed themselves, jumped in trucks and cooperated in trapping “like a rat” a young man who was simply running down the street in their neighborhood.
The men admitted to police in statements at the time that they did not know what crime Mr. Arbery might have committed. Greg McMichaels (a former police investigator) suggested to Glynn County Police that they needed to go out and “canvass” the neighborhood to find out what crime Arbery had committed.
Also, in statements on the day of the killing, none of the men mentioned anything about a Citizen’s Arrest (what they are now claiming this was) or a burglary (what they are claiming they suspected Arbery of committing). These were explanations adopted later when they tried to defend themselves.
In detailing the actions that day, the prosecutor said that evidence would show that William Bryan (who the media and participants persist in calling “Roddy”) drove his truck directly at Arbery four times. That means that Arbery had to avoid being killed or injured by Bryan’s truck four times. Bryan admitted in statements that he was trying to cut Arbery off, thereby using his truck as a weapon. I don’t know how many cases I have read about people who were killed by the police for using their vehicle as weapons when the vehicles in question were moving at less than 5 MPH.
In fact, the Glynn County Police killed a young woman in a hail of bullets because her car was moving after they told her to stop. She is one of the victims whose name appears on tee shirts of demonstrators in front of the Brunswick Courthouse. As far as I know, no arrests or prosecutions have resulted from that killing.
And, I would like to point out that the citizens of Glynn County were prevented on even voting on dissolving the scandal ridden Glynn county Police Department by the Glynn County Council.
Last night, Joy Reid talked with Paul Butler about what happens in case like this when you have only a small number of African Americans on the jury. Usually, the defendant is acquitted. They talked about the Zimmerman case.
It is a travesty that there is only one black person on this jury. The judge simply declined to do his duty in rejecting the Defense reasons for eliminating jurors. Also, the judge allowed overly broad and comprehensive questions such as “Have you in any way supported Black Lives Matter or the Social Justice Movement?”
As the prosecutor pointed out, the defense lawyers questioned the black potential jurors in more depth than they did the white jurors. She held up four pages of notes on the interview of a single black juror.
What the prosecution was demonstrating was that the defense attorneys probed the personal lives and beliefs of the black jurors until they found disqualifying information, i.e., information they could use to disqualify the juror without seeming to discriminate which is against the law.
A number of motions were taken up this morning in the Ahmaud Arbery case.
The first was over whether the Defense could call a “use of force” expert to testify about the training supposedly received by Travis and Gregory McMichael.
The state pointed out that none of the people involved in the shotting were law enforcement officers. While Trais and Gregory McMichael might have received use of force training years ago, they were not acting as law enforcement officers on the day of the shooting.
The State also pointed out that the expert the Defense was proposing to call as a witness had already talked with Travis McMichael. The State wanted to have the answers Travis gave in this conversation.
The State argued that the testimony of this witness was “irrelevant, confusing and prejudicial.” The very testimony of this witness gives the actions of the defendants a veneer of law enforcement legitimacy.
The State also noted that a “use of force” expert would testify to training about the “determination of probable cause.” This is not the role of an expert witness, but the role of the court in a jury charge.
Kevin Gough, attorney for William Bryan, argued that the fact that the state was charging “malice murder” meant that somehow this “use of force” witness would be required to talk about the McMichael’s mental state. (Note: I don’t understand this argument).
Gough argued that if the State agreed not to challenge the “credibility” of Travis McMichael then there would be no need for the “use of force” expert.
Gough is the attorney for William Bryan, not for Travis McMichaels. I am not sure why he is arguing about Travis McMichaels in the first place. Gough, however, is frequently arguing strange things. You can almost feel the entire courtroom tense up every time he stands up to speak. Even the other defense attorneys seem embarrassed by him.
The State informed the court that she had no CV on the proposed expert. One of Travis McMichael’s attorneys stood up and interrupted her to say that it wasn’t the job of the Defense to provide the State with a CV.
It was an argumentative and sometimes contentious morning. Gough told the Court that it should be “offended” by the State’s arguments. Another of the defense attorneys told the Judge that he could either read or listen to arguments (those of the defense attorney) but not do both.
There are several blog posts that need to be written about Kevin Gough, the defense attorney for William Bryan. Bryan is the man who joined in the chase of Ahmaud Arbery, tried to pin Arbery in with his (Bryan’s) truck, and actually at one point hit Arbery with the truck. Bryan is also the man who videoed the incident and then through an attorney released the video because he thought it would help his case.
Gough has complained in open court for two weeks about the “protestors” outside the Courthouse in Glynn County, Georgia. I have been to the courthouse several times in the past two weeks. The most people I have seen at the courthouse were there for a march the weekend before jury selection.
On that occasion, 16 October, there were approximately 80 people gathered outside the courthouse. Probably a third of them were media or County personnel. There have been no loud, unruly demonstrations outside the courthouse. For the most part, people are sitting in lawn chairs, talking and eating.
But, Gough, last week, seemed to believe that the jury pool was going to be tainted because those people were outside the court, and because an organization put up a banner with John Lewis’ picture on it, asking people to vote.
When he put this matter before the judge, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, Gough was told that if he wanted to curtail the First Amendment Rights of the people in front of the courthouse, to make a formal motion.
Gough has also read before the court, statements made by the Arbery family and by the Arbery family attorney. He is maintaining that these statements could have an effect on the jury.
Then, Gough complained in court that there weren’t enough “good ole’ boys” or “six pack Joes” in the jury pool, people like his client, William Bryan. Then, in an interview given to Court TV later, Gough explained the difficulty in defining exactly what the demographics of these “good old boys” or “six-pace Joes” were. He then concluded the interview by saying that if you couldn’t define exactly who these jurors were, it wasn’t much use. What?
I sincerely don’t know what Gough is trying to do with these antics. The other two sets of defense attorneys seem to be trying to win the case using more conventional tactics. I cannot see how these tactics will benefit Bryan, but I’m open to having it explained to me.
“All of us have a right to be skeptical” about the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery.
The three men are on trial in huge part because of the pressure that was brought to bear on Georgia, the governor, the AG, the GBI and others to make sure that they were arrested and made these people accountable.
“They (the state) had no plan to do that until we put the pressure on them.”
King notes the appointment of an outside prosecutor (a Republican) “I believe we have an ally in the prosecution…”
Over 1000 potential jurors were called.
There are a lot of factors that strike black people from jury pools before they even get to the process of being questioned at the courthouse.
The jury pool is selected with software that is supposed to make the process more random. Note: The public has no access to that software or ability to judge the reliability and validity of that software.
African Americans are so “heavily policed, so heavily prosecuted” in Brunswick that even when Ahmaud Arbery was murdered, the system treated Ahmaud Arbery like the criminal.
Note: You can see this overpolicing in the body cam video of the police officer who questioned Ahmaud Arbery (several years ago) when he was doing nothing but sitting in his car listening to music. The officers then used the fact that Arbery felt he was being harassed (which he was), and got angry about it, as an excuse for escalating the situation. The officer escalated the situation while repeating over and over again that he wasn’t trying to escalate the situation. When this officer testified in pre-trial hearings, he wore full body gear, and tried to make it seem that Arbery had acted irrationally. I would have reacted the same way, but police would have never questioned me if I were sitting in my car listening to music.
If you are caught up in the criminal justice system you are not even in the jury pool.
Also, it is much more difficult for African Americans to commit to being on juries. They are less likely to be able to take time off work, weather the economic problems caused by being away from work and family responsibilities.
The attorneys want to select people who say they don’t have a strong opinion about the case.
“If you live in Brunswick and you don’t have a strong opinion about this case, it tells me a whole lot about you.”
Note: One of the first questions asked by Sheffield (lawyer for Travis McMichael) is whether the potential jurors have a “negative” opinion of either of the three.
“It’s going to be difficult to find somebody black, or white with any social conscience, who isn’t gravely concerned about this case.”
Note: Again, Sheffield, for the defense attorneys, asks the jurors if they have supported “in any way” the social justice movement. This is an extraordinarily broad question. It implies that “the social justice movement” is a unified, single movement. It also covers so many different issues and movements. This reinforces King’s point. If jurors who have “in any way” supported social justice movements are stricken from the jury, who do we have left?
If the trial lawyers are only trying to find people who are ambivalent. “I’m concerned.”
Who doesn’t have an opinion about this case?
All it takes is one juror to hold out to create a hung jury.
The defense if giving jurors the Citizen’s arrest argument to hang their hats on.
Note: After all the pressure that was put on the state of Georgia after the video was released, Brian Kamp signed a law banning citizen’s arrests.
But, the Citizen’s arrest law was in effect when the three men hunted down Arbery and killed him in the street.
Even under the law, the three men were “chasing him through a neighborhood with their guns out until they exhausted Ahmaud and then they murdered him.”
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.