Justice for Ahmaud Arbery! Lynched for jogging while Black

Protest at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

Philando Castile was killed by a Minnesota cop for Driving While Black. Trayvon Martin was killed by wannabe cop George Zimmerman in Florida for Walking While Black.

Ahmaud Arbery was killed by three white vigilantes in Georgia for Jogging While Black.

The 25-year-old Arbery was running near his home when he was shot on Feb. 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia. On that Sunday afternoon retired police officer Gregory McMichael spotted the former high school football star jogging and decided he must be a burglar.

McMichael grabbed his son Travis and got into a pickup truck that had a license plate decorated with the confederate flag. Together they confronted Arbery with a .357 Magnum handgun and a shotgun. 

A neighbor of the McMichaels, William Bryan, Jr., joined the posse in his own truck and videoed the killing. Bryan also allegedly struck Arbery with his truck.

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, was informed of her son’s death by a police investigator. The cop said that Arbery was involved in a burglary and was killed by a homeowner ― a complete lie. 

Bryan’s video shows Ahmaud Arbery running when he’s intercepted by the McMichaels. Gregory McMichael is seen standing in the truck bed with a gun.

Arbery tries to run around the truck but he is stopped by Travis McMichael. Shots are fired and Ahmaud Arbery falls to the ground. 

As civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said, “You look on that video, and it’s like it was a hunting party.” Crump is an attorney for Ahmaud Abery’s father, Marcus Arbery.

It then took 74 days for the police to arrest McMichaels and another two weeks to lock up Bryan. 

Gregory McMichael is actually proud of killing Ahmaud Arbery. “You’ve heard the saying that no good deed goes unpunished?” McMichael said on a phone call from jail. “Yeah, that’s the shining example right there,” referring to the Black man’s death.

A 21st century lynching

The three killers of Ahmaud Arbery are now on trial in Brunswick. Linda Dunikoski came from Marietta, Georgia. to be the prosecutor.

The killers were only brought to court because millions of people across the country joined the Black Lives Matter protests. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited this upsurge. 

Jackie Johnson, the local District Attorney in Glynn County ― where the shooting took place ― had to drop the case since her office had employed Gregory McMichael. She was defeated for reelection and has been indicted for attempting to cover up Arbery’s death.

Another DA, George Barnhill in Waycross, Georgia., also had to exit because of a similar conflict. He shared Gregory McMichael’s belief that he had a licence to kill.

Barnhill urged the police department in Glynn County not to arrest Ahmaud Arbery’s killers. The prosecutor maintained there wasn’t “probable cause” to arrest the McMichaels since they were pursuing a “burglary suspect.” 

The McMichaels are claiming they were trying to make a “citizen’s arrest” of Ahmaud Arbery. Georgia’s “citizen’s arrest’ law was passed in 1863 during the Civil War to capture enslaved Africans who were trying to escape.

One hundred twenty-nine years before the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Wesley Lewis and Henry Jackson were lynched just outside Brunswick on Feb. 21, 1891. According to the Marshall Project, the two Black men “were hanged from a tree, riddled with more than 1,000 bullets, then left on display for thousands of white spectators to view.”

There were more than 500 documented lynching victims in Georgia. Ahmaud Abery’s death was a lynching as well.

The unfinished revolution

Brunswick is on Georgia’s Atlantic Coast. It’s near the Sea Islands that stretch 245 miles from Florida to South Carolina.

On Jan. 16, 1865, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman issued field order No. 15, which confiscated the abandoned plantations. The 400,000 acres were to be given to freed Africans in 40-acre plots as a tiny down payment on reparations.

President Andrew Johnson, who did nothing to stop thousands of Black people from being killed by the Ku Klux Klan, overturned Sherman’s order later that year. Northern capitalists grabbed much of the land instead to build luxury estates. Brunswick, Georgia, was the stopping-off point to these resorts.

The U.S. Civil War was an unfinished revolution. Instead of land and freedom, Black people were lynched and forced to be sharecroppers.

Seventy miles from Brunswick, Troy Davis was framed in Savannah for killing a police officer. Despite virtually every witness recanting their testimony, Davis was executed on Sept. 21, 2011.

Ten years later, justice for Ahmaud Arbery also means remembering Troy Davis, Henry Jackson, Wesley Lewis and all the other victims of lynch terror.