Justice for Ahmaud Arbery


Ahmaud Arbery

End white supremacy and racist murder

Statement from Socialist Unity Party/Partido de Socialismo Unido

Similarities between the cases of Trayvon Martin, murdered Feb. 26, 2012, and Ahmaud Arbery, murdered Feb. 23, 2020, are peculiar. Both of these Black youth were unarmed, both were stalked and killed in February, and no charges were made at the time, because in both incidents the killers claimed self-defense. Both would have turned 26 this year, Trayvon Martin in February and Ahmaud Arbery on May 8.

What is alarmingly different about Ahmaud’s case is that the video footage was in police hands from day one. The video was released publicly on May 5, two-and-a-half months after the killing. The video ignited a firestorm of outrage throughout the nation. What is astonishing, but also typical, are the different interpretations of the video — one being of a coldblooded murder and the other, by elected District Attorney George E. Barnhill, as a justified killing of a Black jogger, shot and killed by two white men.

As Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wonda Cooper’s view encompassed what most people seeing the video said: “My son was killed in the streets as he was run down and chased by two vehicles and nobody went to jail. They got to go home and my baby was placed in a body bag.”

The disturbing video that emerged May 5 shows Ahmaud Arbery jogging down a narrow road in Brunswick, Ga., in broad daylight, when he is confronted by the two armed men. As Arbery jogs, Travis McMichael can be seen waiting for him in the road with a shotgun, while his father stands in the back of a pickup truck with a revolver. After a brief confrontation, Arbery is shot at 3 times.

The video was filmed by a third white man, William Bryan, an accomplice to the murder who, as of May 9, still has not been charged or arrested. The Brunswick police admit having had a copy of the shocking video since February. Before May 7, no charges of any kind had been filed against the McMichaels, who claimed they chased Arbery because he “looked like a burglary suspect.”

The 2020 Ahmaud Arbery murder is not only reminiscent of the 2012 Trayvon Martin murder, it echos the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till. The three lynchings are examples of what political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal explains in his 2017 book, “Have Black Lives Ever Mattered.”

In the chapter titled “To Protect and Serve Whom? Reforms? Or Revolutionary Change,” Mumia writes about the proposed solutions offered by Dr. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party. Newton wrote several articles proposing how we might totally transform “American Policing.” In the tail end of the fiery 1960s and chilling 1970s, Newton’s articles followed years of on-the-ground organizing, demanding not “community policing,” but “community control over the police.”

Until this capitalist system — which needs tools like racism to keep us divided in order to facilitate the super exploitation of Black and Brown peoples — is discarded, these lynchings will, unfortunately, continue.

Part of that fight to change society includes fighting for our demands.

We should demand from this racist system that any communities of color, which have been victimized by police murder, should have the right, and be given the resources, to replace the existing police force in their communities with one of their own making, hiring trusted members from their communities — a police force controlled and created by them.

In addition, to protect all people of color no matter where they live, laws protecting victims of racist terror and murder cannot go unenforced and must fall under a stricter set of guidelines with regard to criminal justice. There should be immediate arrests when people of color are murdered by racists or police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other state or local criminal justice agency.

And those complicit in those crimes, including criminal justice officials from cops to judges who ignore racist homicides, must also be charged as criminals.

We know that these demands cannot be met by the system unless they are forced upon it by a powerful and militant movement.

In 2013, sparked by the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a 2012 annual report titled, “The Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People Killed by Police, Security Guards and Vigilantes in the United States,” finding that a Black person is killed every 28 hours. This report inspired further research that found from the years 2013 to 2018, an average of 1,000 people are killed yearly by the police. Black men and Native Americans held the highest percentage. Has this number changed?

Again, out of anger and rage we mobilize for justice for another Black man brutally killed by a retired police thug and his son, who were initially given a pass, sent home to a good night’s rest and a pat on the shoulder for a job well done.

If our progressive movement, its organizations and activists fighting for social and economic justice come together in unity and solidarity with people of color fighting for liberation and self-determination, we can move mountains.

It’s going to take millions of people taking action against this problem of police terror, not only when these incidents happen. We have to be ready at all times. In this time of COVID-19, we need to look for other ways to engage our communities in the fight to tear down this existing criminal justice system and replace it with a system that truly “protects and serves,” not the racists nor the system that enables them, but the people.

— Gloria Verdieu, Rebecka Jackson, John Parker

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