Jury Selection in the Trial of the Men who Killed Ahmaud Arbery: Grinding My Teeth

Travis McMichael holding his gun after he has shot Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery is stumbling toward his death. First responders didn’t even initially check to see if he was alive

I’ve spent a week and a half grumbling and grinding my teeth about the jury selection in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Defense attorneys in this case wanted to shield the questioning of the jurors from the public entirely.  The judge, in what is called a “compromise” ruling, allowed two reporters at the time to listen in on individual questioning of potential jurors and take “notes.”  There is no transcript that is released to the public and as far as I know the general public is not allowed to sit in the courtroom and listen. *

Jurors are being called in 20 at the time.  First they are asked general questions by the Judge, the state prosecutor and each of the three defense teams.  Then, jurors are moved to another room and individual jurors are questioned out of hearing of the other jurors.

It is this last part of jury selection that the judge decided to shield from the public and only allow reporters (two at the time) to sit in and listen to.

These reporters supposedly release their notes not to the general public, but to other journalists.  So, what we the public have been left with every day are a few quotes from the potential jurors and some demographic information, that a couple of reporters think are important.

This is completely unhelpful for those of us in the public who feel we have a Constitutional right to observe pubic trials, especially ones this important and controversial.

As Shaun King notes in  “The Breakdown” podcast, (10/18/21) there are a lot of reasons to worry about the jury selection process, especially in a state like Georgia in a rural area like Glynn County.

As King notes, blacks are eliminated from the jury pool before we ever get to a trial.  For various reasons (such as involvement with the criminal justice system) many are not included on voter roles at all and therefore don’t appear on the lists of people who can serve as potential jurors.

Compound this with the questions defense attorneys are being allowed to ask potential jurors (Do you support the Black Lives Movement in any way?) and anyone with a brain would be concerned with black jurors (or even white jurors who have a social justice consciousness) who will make it onto the jury.

The questions about supporting (in any way) the Black Lives Movement, or what defense attorneys are calling the “social justice movement” have been allowed by the judge, again in what is being called a “compromise.”  Jurors are not being asked if they voted for Trump or support Trump “in any way.” 

And, remember these are questions that are being asked in the general questioning.  We know about them.  We do no know the questions nor the answers being allowed in the individual juror questioning.

Trials are public for a reason.  Democracy works when the public can oversee the workings of government and the court system.  We aren’t supposed to have secret trials in this country, but if jury selection can be conducted in secret, jury selection one of the most important parts of any trial, then the public can’t perform an oversight function.

In fact, the jurors in this trial are being treated as if they are flowers that might wilt and die at any moment.  The media keeps talking about preserving their “anonymity.”  We aren’t supposed to have anonymous jurors.

In the little town where I grew up, people were called for jury duty and were questioned.  They answered supposedly as truthfully as they could.  If they were embarrassed about their answers, they were embarrassed and needed to do some thinking about why they were embarrassed.  Other members of the community were allowed to think badly about them for their answers.  Members of the community had a right not to shop at their stores, or hire them for jobs depending on their answers.  This is what it is like to participate in a community.  If people are that embarrassed about their views then they damn well better think about asking themselves why. 

People, citizens in a democratic society should be willing to stand up and say what they believe and take the consequences.  That is what being a member of the community is about.  We are a community, not a collection of secretive, units, obsessed with keeping our opinions and attitudes hidden from others.  This is absurd.

But, the officials running this trial seem to think that jurors are fragile flowers who must be protected from giving an “unpopular” (not to say unjust) verdict.  Defense attorneys have moved to have the few people outside the court every day removed across the street in a “First Amendment Free” zone.  Folks, give me a break here, the United States is a “First Amendment Free” zone, not some parking lot designated as such by the Glynn County Sheriff’s office.

(Don’t get me started on Glynn County.)

To add to the problems caused by almost completely excluding the public from the jury questioning, for the past two days, the microphones in the court room have been turned down so low that even most of the general questioning cannot be understood.  For the past two days of jury selection when the judge or the attorneys turn their heads a fraction of an inch to the left or right, or look down, there is unintelligible sound.  No phone calls to the Clerk of the Court have been returned.

It might be useful to remember here that these three men are being tried by a county system that tried to cover up the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.  A Glynn County police officer went to Mr. Arbery’s home and told his mother that he had been killed in the process of a burglary (in the middle of the afternoon).  There were no arrests for two months after the killing and those only occurred because one of the perpetrators was stupid enough to think that releasing the video of the killing would help him.  The GBI only took the case away from the County after this video went viral and the state of Georgia looked so racist and corrupt that they were shamed into taking the case away from Glynn County.

A few other facts you might want to remember when considering that Glynn County is trying these men:

  • The County DA in charge when the killing took place was such a close friend of one of the men (Gregory McMichaels) that he phoned her at the scene and told her (on a first name basis) that he needed advice.
  • The Glynn County Police Department did not make any arrests at the scene.
  • First responders (from the GlynnCounty Police) did not even offer assistance or try to see if Arbery was still alive when they first arrived.
  • Officers repeatedly reassured the assailants that everything was alright and that they (the officers) could “only imagine” the terrible situation the men had faced.
  • The DA (jackie Johnson, for whom Greg McMichaels had worked) recused herself and immediately phoned another DA and had him offer an opinion about the shooting to the police.
  • This DA (George Barnhill, Sr.) told the Glynn County police that no arrests were necessary since the men had acted in self defense.
  • Then when the case was taken over by the GBI, Barnhill, Sr. was given the case.  Johnson did not tell the state attorney (who appointed Barnhill) that she had talked to Barnhill or that he had issued a letter absolving the men of responsibility.
  • Johnson has denied recommending Barnhill, Sr. to the office of the State Attorney.
  • Evidently when Barnhill, Sr. took the case, he also did not tell the state attorney that he had issued the letter.
  • The Glynn County Police Department has a history of corruption and brutality.
  • Their Drugs Unit was disbanded, the police chief was removed and indicted.  They also killed a young woman in a hail of bullets because she did not immediately stop her car when they ordered her to do so.
  • The Glynn County Police continued to employ a man who was actively stalking a former partner and bragging about it to other officers.
  • This officer went to the former partner’s home, murdered her and her friend and then killed himself.
  • This is just what I know and I don’t keep close track of the goings on in Glynn County.
  • A new police chief has just been hired by the Glynn County Police who lied on his application for the job. 
  • Members of the Glynn County Commission (voted out of office recently) prevented the citizens of Glynn County from even having the opportunity to vote on whether to disband the Glynn County Police.
  • One of the Commissioners who was central in preventing this vote from taking place was quoted in the media as saying “That’s not how it works.”
  • No, that’s not how it works. Citizens of Glynn County aren’t allowed to control their own police department.

The trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery hasn’t even started yet and I am furious, incensed, disgusted by the way in which the trial is being handled by the Judge, Glynn County and the media.

*Phone calls to the Glynn County Clerk of the Court to complain about the microphone levels have not been returned.

Jury Selection: Ahmaud Arbery Case

25 October 2021

Ahmaud Arbery Case: Jury Selecti

One of the most infuriating parts of trying to cover the trial of the three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery is that individual questioning of the jurors is shielded from the public.

When each panel of 20 potential jurors is called before the court, lawyers ask general questions, asking the potential jurors to raise their hand if they agree or disagree with a particular statement. If you are lucky you can catch this part of the trial on Court TV, or a streaming service.

Then, potential jurors in this pool are taken to another room individually and questioned outside the hearing of the other potential jurors. The problem is that the public has no access to this second, individual questioning. Reporters (2 at the time) are allowed to witness this part of the trial, but they are only taking “notes.” This has resulted in a few quotes and a little bit of demographic information for some of the jurors. So, the reporters are not making a transcript, they are taking “notes,” jotting down facts they deem important. As far as I know, the public does not have access to the notes, only other reporters.

So, one of the most important parts of the trial, the selection of the jury, is being essentially held in private outside the view of the public. 

At the beginning of the jury selection, Glynn County, Ga, the county where the trial is being held, made a decision to hold the trial in a normal courtroom in the downtown courthouse.  This courtroom is not large enough for a high profile trial.  And, because of social distancing, the county has limited the number of people in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys tried to make the entire jury questioning process secret and held away from the public.  Reports are that the judge in the case made a “compromise” by allowing reporters, two at the time, to sit in the courtroom while individual juror questioning is being conducted. 

The reporters are rotated in and out of the courtroom so no reporter is witnessing even an entire day of questioning.  I am guessing that they are limited to a couple of hours at the time.

This arrangement serves the interests of journalists, since they can file stories as if they were witnessing the process, and they only have to report a small snippet of what is going on since that’s all they are witnessing and all they are allowed in terms of air time.

It does not, however, serve the interests of the public.  First, because reporters are being treated as if this is a favor, they are going to err on the side of not reporting anything they think might get them kicked out of doing the coverage.  Second, they are witnessing only a small snippet of the trial and cannot therefore form impressions of trends that may be relevant had they been allowed to witness the entire day.  Third, they are either not allowed or not reporting any information about body language or facial reactions.  One of the jury experts on Court TV noted that the answers of the jurors were not nearly as important to her as were the pauses, the body language, and the facial expressions of jurors.

Ahmaud Arbery Case: Jury Selection

Ahmaud Arbery Case,

Day Five, 10/22/21

Friday Morning Reflections: Jury Selection

Few people seem concerned with the private questioning, away from public scrutiny, that is going on in the trial of the men who abducted and shot Ahmaud Arbery.  I think more people should be concerned.

Trials are public for a reason.  Trials are public so that the members of the community can exercise an oversight function.  There are not supposed to be secret trials in this country, but that is exactly what it going on in Brunswick, Georgia.

Because of the rulings of the judge in this case, potential jurors are being questioned collectively.  A panel of 20 potential jurors are called in and asked to hold up their juror number in response to questions from attorneys.  After that, jurors are separated from the rest of the people in the pool and questioned individually by the attorneys.

The problem here is that the judge seems to feel that these jurors deserve to be selected (or deselected) for jury duty in a process that is removed from public scrutiny. 

Defense attorneys moved to make the entire process secret, but after objections the judge gave what has been described as a “compromise” ruling.  The compromise is that two reporters at a time can sit in the room where individual questioning is going on and take “notes.”

I have no idea how long each set of reporters is allowed to sit in the courtroom before they are rotated out and replaced by others, but it can’t be long given the notoriety of the case and the number of media outlets that seem to be present. 

Last Saturday, I attended a rally for Ahmaud Arbery at the courthouse.  There were approximately 75 – 100 people there.  A large proportion of those in attendance were media.

So, the judge’s ruling means that in the first phase of questioning, the part where the jurors are asked to agree or disagree with certain statements by holding up their juror cards, the public can only see the attorneys and hear the juror number of the responding jurors being read out.

For example: “Do you support the Black Lives Matter movement?”  “241, 242, 255, etc.”  “Very good.”

We cannot see the jurors.  I am not completely happy with that situation but I can live with it.

During the second part of jury selection, however, the part where the attorneys question the juror individually (out of hearing of the other jurors) the public is excluded. 

I assume it was a ruling by the judge that allowed Glynn County to stipulate that only persons involved with the case can enter the courtroom and therefore witness the proceedings.  This means that the general public is excluded from this part of the trial and has to rely on the “notes” of a couple of reporters.  And remember, these notes are not a transcript.

They are just that, notes, fragments of statements considered relevant by a couple of reporters sitting in a courtroom for a few minutes and not reporting on the entire day of juror questioning.  This might very well make the press very happy.  Each reporter gets to file a story as if s/he was in the courtroom, but doesn’t have to do the work of sitting in on the whole day of jury selection.  It does not, however, serve the public interest.

Trials are supposed to be public.  As the incomparable Elie Mystal told me yesterday (yes, he actually did tweet me) the pubic right to view the process applies only to the trial, not the pretrial process.  But, that means that one of the most important parts of the trial, jury selection, is shielded from public scrutiny.   

Perhaps most people are not interested in witnessing jury selection.  Court TV, which purports to be covering the trial, is not even covering all of the general questioning.  I assume that attorneys for the media did not challenge the two-reporter compromise ruling.

Yesterday, an attorney for certain media outlets challenged a gag rule the judge had issued which prevents the attorneys from responding to certain questions about the case.  The media attorney argued that this would put a chill on what the attorneys said.  He argued that the attorneys would err on the side of caution since it was unclear exactly what they were and were not allowed to discuss.  I would guess this was exactly what the judge had in mind. 

The media attorney argued that usually when such gag orders are given, they are accompanied by a detailed explanation of the case law on which they are based and clear instructions of what is and what is not allowed.

The judge seemed to react with impatience to the media attorney’s arguments.  The judge informed the court that (essentially) he was a busy man in the middle of a trial (in which the lawyers were taking a lot longer to question potential jurors than he wanted them to, although he was determined to take all the time needed, but also that they should hurry the f… up).  He said, somewhat ironically, that as soon as he had time to explain exactly what he was talking about, he would.

Meanwhile, the attorneys are under the badly defined gag order.

This trial is raising a lot of questions.

Ahmaud Arbery: Jury Selection

Brunswick, Georgia

Wednesday, 10/20/21

Already, on day three, I have a lot of questions about the way in which the Ahmaud Arbery case is being tried.   

If my understanding is correct, no members of the public are allowed to attend the trial.  Only people involved with the case are allowed in the courtroom.  This means that the community is excluded from participation.

In addition, all the potential jurors are being questioned privately, that is outside the hearing of the other jurors.  Defense attorneys did not want the public to have access to the juror answers to the questions when they were questioned individually.  The judge made a “compromise” and allowed two journalists in the room to take “notes.”

These “notes” are obviously not comprehensive.  The reporters are not taking down a transcript.  The public is then only hearing information about jury selection that is filtered through reporters.  As of today, these “notes” supposedly released to other reporters have consisted of a few quotes and some numbers.

To make matters worse, the reporters are being rotated in and out, so there is no prolonged observation.  This may please the reporters since each of them can file stories as if they were in the room, but it does not serve the public interest since each reporter is only observing a tiny snippet of the questioning. 

To me, this system is insane.

Glynn County, Georgia has chosen to hold the trial in a regular courtroom completely ignoring the interest in and the importance of this case.  Then, because of social distancing, they are only allowing people involved in the case to attend.  This means that the community is prevented from performing the oversight function it is meant to perform during a public trial.  There is a reason trials are public, so the public can witness and monitor and alert the rest of the community when something is going wrong.

We do not have that in the trial of the men who hunted down and shot Ahmaud Arbery. 

I also do not understand how jury selection can be carried out in secret.  I can understand if a particular juror asks to speak in some completely private forum, but to allow all the jurors to be questioned in private, not seen and not heard by the rest of the community just seems wrong.

Jury selection is one of the most important parts of a trial and the community is being prevented from monitoring this phase of the trial. 

In an interview on Court TV, one of the criminal defense attorneys said that he was always less concerned with what a particular juror said than he was with the facial expression and the body language of the juror answering.  But, in this case, we have been denied access to that information entirely and we only have the answers given by the potential jurors through third, fourth and fifth parties. 

Ahmaud Arbery: Jury Selection

Ahmaud Arbery Case: Day 2

Blog #6

Jury Selection

It was reported that the Court in Brunswick, Georgia was going to go into the night selecting jurors, but instead the court stopped jury selection around 6 PM. 

Today, jury selection continues with general questioning by the Prosecutor, Dunikoski.  Dunikoski and the other prosecutors on the team are not from Glynn County where Ahmaud Arbery was killed.  They are instead from Cobb County.  Dunikoski seemed concerned yesterday that jurors would hold prosecutors responsible for corruption cases in and around Atlanta.  The judge, however, did not see the benefit of introducing that subject into the jury questioning.

Dunikoski did, however today, ask the prospective jurors if they had any negative feelings or weren’t going to be able to be fair because the prosecution team was not from Glynn County.  No one raised their hands.

Jurors were asked:

  • If they were law enforcement personnel.
  • If they knew or were related to the present DA in Glynn County.
  • If they knew or were related to the former DA in Glynn County.
  • Note: The former DA was indicted for her handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case and it is widely believed that she lost reelection because of this.
  • Whether they knew any of the defendants (several did)
  • Whether they had served on a jury and whether that jury reached a verdict.
  • Whether they had had negative experiences with law enforcement (one did)
  • Whether they had had bad experiences with prosecutors (the same juror had)
  • Whether they had been arrested, or prosecuted for a crime (three had)
  • Whether they had a close friend or relative who had been arrested, prosecuted or convicted of a crime. (eight had)
  • Whether they had been a victim of a burglary or a home invasion (five had)
  • Whether they had given a statement to law enforcement (gone to the police department and given a statement) (four had)
  • Whether they owned a gun (11 did)
  • Whether they had carried a gun as part of their work (four)
  • Whether they had lived in Glynn County for less than five years.
  • The DA then went through a list of witnesses and asked if the potential jurors knew any of them. 

The jury pool was asked whether because of religious or moral reasons they could not pass judgement on another person.  Three raised their hands.

Five said they belonged to no organization, religious or other.

When asked if they had ever been arrested and treated unfairly, two jurors raised their hands.

Note: Juror 69 raised his hand in a number of these questions.

Ahmaud Arbery: Jury Selection

Blog #5

Jury selection in the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery is starting this morning. Speculation is that the process may take as much as three weeks.  Over 1,000 people have been called for jury duty which is a much larger pool than is usual in most cases, even in high profile cases like this one.  Attorneys have said that they have never heard of a case where this many potential jurors have been called.  There is speculation that many of the people called will not show up – for legitimate reasons and because they don’t want to take part.

The potential jurors have been asked to fill out a questionnaire.  It is not a long questionnaire especially not in comparison with other trials of this prominence.  Some of the questions are:  Have you seen the video of the shooting in Satilla Shores? How many times have you seen the video.  Have you been to the neighborhood?   Potential jurors will then be asked questions in the courtroom.  Commentators are creating the impression that

Social media posting will be searched for the potential jurors.  Strict rules about how they can access that information.  They cannot sneak onto their social media, but it is generally accepted now that the lawyers are responsible for searching any information that is public.  There will be people who have posted about this case, about the issues related to this case.  A lawyer is saying that she was not going to convict another black man.  She said that she was going to court and would not convict. 

No matter how many times people are told, and how many times they see other defendants’ videos of jailhouse conversations (Casey Anthony), they assume privacy when they post on the internet and talk on the telephone.  It is also difficult for people even if they know they are being taped, to remember this once they get into a conversation. 

One of the issues that was raised in this case was the use of the jailhouse phone conversations of the defendants.  As I previously posted, there are notifications literally beside the phones in jails and prisons informing people that their conversations will be recorded, but people still make those phone calls and conduct those conversations like it was 1950.  The judge in this case, for that reason, turned down a defense motion to exclude all the jailhouse conversations of the defendants. They argued 14th amendment, they even argued for Gregory McMichaels, spousal confidentiality.  But, the judge ruled, once you are informed that you are being recorded and you pick up that phone you make a decision to give up all those rights. 

The host of Court TV today is again repeating the William “Roddie” Bryan.  I have no idea why this middle name is repeated by almost every commentator on television and every print journalist. 

Court TV is doing live coverage of the trial. There are also several interesting interviews with attorneys in the case posted on the site.

Notes: 600 of the called 1,000 potential jurors showed up on Monday 18 October 2021. The court interviewed 8 of them in individual voir dire. One juror was dismissed after stating that he had negative views of Gregory McMichael but evidently not Travis McMichael. The potential juror said that Gregory McMichael appeared to be the “lead dog.”

FOR ALMOST THREE MONTHS THERE WERE NO ARRESTS AFTER THE KILLING OF AHMAUD ARBERY IN GLYNN COUNTY, GEORGIA

Cars line up along Highway 17 in Glynn County, Georgia to protest the County handling of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

AHMAUD ARBERY

#2 PROSECUTORS

The date for the trial of the three men who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery and shot him in the street is October 18, 2021 in the Glynn County Courthouse, Brunswick, Georgia.

For almost three months after Arbery, 25, was shot and killed, there were no arrests, no charges brought and almost no local press coverage.  But one of the men who joined the chase of Arbery as Arbery jogged through a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood filmed the chase and the shooting.  When the video went viral, media attention was attracted to the case.  At that point, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) took the investigation out of the hands of local officials.  Charges were brought in days.

The local prosecutor in Brunswick, Georgia, Jackie Johnson, where the shooting occurred recused herself almost immediately.  Gregory McMichaels, 64, had been a police investigator in her office.  After making a decision to recuse herself, Johnson contacted another local prosecutor, George E. Barnhill, Sr., and asked him to advise the county police department about the case. 

Barnhill then advised the Glynn County Police Department that the three men who armed themselves and pursued Ahmaud Arbery in a suburban neighborhood and then shot him in the street, appeared to have been acting in self-defense. 

At much the same time as she was contacting Barnhill Sr. and asking him to consult with the Glynn County Police Department, Johnson, contacted the state Attorney General and requested a new prosecutor.  The state Attorney General assigned the case to Barnhill Sr., the same Barnhill who had been asked by Johnson to give advice to the Glynn County Police Department.   It is unclear whether Johnson recommended Barnhill to the state Attorney General.  It seems likely that she did.  It was later revealed that Johnson did not tell the state Attorney General that she had requested Barnhill, Sr. to give advice on prosecution to the Glynn County Police Department.

After Barnhill, Sr. was given the case, the family of Ahmaud Arbery found out that Barnhill Sr.’s son worked in Johnson’s office.  They then objected to the elder Barnhill’s appointment.  As far as can be determined, the family was not aware at the time that Johnson had asked and Barnhill,Sr. had already advised the Glynn County Police Department on prosecuting the case.  They were, however, aware that Barnhill Sr.’s son, George F. Barnhill, not only worked as an attorney in the Brunswick DA’s office, but that the younger Barnhill had worked with Gregory McMichaels, on a case against Ahmaud Arbery years before.

After being notified by the family of their objections, Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr took the Sr. Barnhill off the case and assigned the case to Tom Durden from the Atlantic Judicial Circuit in Hinesville.  Durden announced plans in early May of (2020?) to ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges.

Carr later made a statement that the elder Barnhill never mentioned potential conflicts when he was initially asked to take over the case, nor did Barnhill Sr. mention that he had already offered the Glynn County police department an “initial opinion.”  This opinion was that the three men had most likely acted in self defense, i.e., that they should not be prosecuted.

The case was later transferred to the DA in Cobb County, Georgia.  It is unclear why Durden was taken off the case.  

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in June of 2021 that a grand jury had been convened to investigate the actions of DA Jackie Johnson in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Ahmaud Arbery

Blog #1 “What is he doing wrong?”

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.  He had jogged in the neighborhood before.

But this jog ended with a retired police investigator, Greg McMichaels, and his son Travis, arming themselves and jumping into their pickup truck to pursue Arbery.  Travis McMichaels shot Arbery in the street and killed him.

For nearly three months, police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING.  Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the inaction of the local authorities. 

Another man in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where the killing took place, phoned 911 about Arbery jogging.  After a few seconds, the caller said, obviously excited: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery.  The 911 operator asked: “What is he doing?”  Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

That is the question we are all left with.  Your answer to that question says as much about you as it does about the people involved.   

Every citizen needs to listen to “Buried Truths,” the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.

“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

the buzz of white privilege: ahmaud arbery

AHMAUD ARBERY

BLOG #3

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, a retired police investigator, Greg McMichael, 64, sees a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, jogging down the street past McMichael’s house. As it has been described, McMichael goes on “high alert.”  He calls out to his son Travis McMichael who also lives in the neighborhood, grabs his 357 Magnum and runs to his white pick up truck.  Travis McMichael grabs a 12-gage shotgun and jumps into the driver’s seat. 

Arbery is jogging down the street with no cell phone, no weapon, wearing jogging clothes.

The two men, the McMichaels, later claimed that they were on high alert because they recognized the young man.  They (with amazing rapidity) formed a self-appointed posse to hunt the young man down.

Ahmaud Arbery was a jogger.  He had jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before.  In fact, this was part of the reason the two men (joined by another) pursued him.  The McMichaels claimed that Arbery had been observed on video tape, entering a house in the area which was under construction.

The owner of the house under construction had set up the video equipment and had also viewed the tapes.  Nothing he saw on the tapes alarmed him.  There was a curious white couple who entered the house, a group of white young people who carted off  pieces of wood.  Arbery has also been filmed wandering around the house and leaving without disturbing anything.  The owner didn’t call 911.  He didn’t even notify the authorities.

But, evidently, there was a buzz in the neighborhood about trespassers.  I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar this buzz wasn’t about the white couple, or the white kids who stole from the site.  It was about a young black man daring to act like any number of other people fulfilling their curiosity about the new construction. 

This is the kind of “buzz” that leads to two white men arming themselves in a matter of minutes and hunting down a young black man on the street.  This is the kind of “buzz” that gins up hyper vigilance for men who see themselves as protectors of white privilege.  It makes them feel special, like heros, like warriors.  They love it.

And, they thought they were perfectly justified in arming themselves, jumping into a truck and pursuing another human being, cutting off his escape and murdering him in the street.

essential podasts: ahmaud arbery. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

https://www.wabe.org/shows/buried-truths/

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.  He had jogged in the neighborhood before.

But, this jog ended with a retired police investigator and his son, Greg and Travis McMichaels, jumping into their pick up truck and pursuing Arbery.  They shot Arbery in the street and killed him.

For nearly three months, the police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING.  Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the total lack of action about the murder. 

Another man in the Satilla shores neighborhood phoned 911 about Arbery jogging.  After a few seconds, the caller said: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery.  The 911 operator asked:    “What is he doing?”  Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

Every citizen of this country needs to listen to the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.

“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”