Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed Feb. 23 while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near his home. Currently, no arrests have been made, though two suspects were identified, questioned and released. Citing conflicts of interest, two previous district attorneys recused themselves from the case without seeking charges. This Tuesday, video emerged that stands in stark contrast to the previous statements of the men who shot Arbery, and their claims of self-defense have been called into question. Prosecutor Tom Durden now says that he will present evidence to a grand jury; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed proceedings until at least mid-June. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery has already been delayed too long.
National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director David J. Johns released the following statement in response:
“The murder of our brother Ahmaud angers me. As the uncle to two newborn Black boys it frightens me and as an advocate for the diverse needs of Black communities it’s a reminder that we still have so much work to do to ensure that we can feel safe in a world that offers fewer protections to those of us who have skin that has been kissed by the sun. I struggle with not possessing the emotional capacity to process the repeated witnessing of modern lynchings — public executions of Black bodies. I question whether these repeated reminders of our country’s active struggle with the vestiges of transatlantic enslavement and enduring legal, judicial, educational, medical, and social institutions designed to maintain inequality do anything to compel those lulled into believing that privilege somehow protects into appreciating that each of us who bare witness to the killing of Black bodies are responsible for responding in ways that acknowledge the vile nature of unique forms of trauma and terror that have been inflicted upon Black communities for centuries. We stand with the family of Ahmaud Arbery and in support of our board member Benjamin Crump (co-counsel) in demanding #JusticeForAhmaud. I stand fully behind our call to action.
“The National Black Justice Coaliton (NBJC) stands with the family of Ahmaud Arbery and is calling for prosecutor Tom Durden to either: a) file charges immediately, based on the clear and compelling evidence of the widely-watched video of this horrible murder, or b) work with all deliberate speed to use distancing technologies to convene a grand jury with the necessary security protocols. In 2020, we must send the message that lynch mobs—which were NEVER a means of achieving true justice—have no place in our society. Ahmaud’s family deserves justice and his admitted killers should be charged and put to trial. NOW!”