On Feb. 27, citizens of Brunswick, GA honored Ahmaud Arbery and remembered how his tragic passing led to that community coming together to vote out their Judicial Circuit District Attorney, Jackie Johnson, who had been shamefully failing to provide equal justice for years.
“On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was murdered in a racially-motivated hate crime while jogging in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia. Three white men racially profiled him…[Although their cover story was that Ahmaud was a burglar responsible for recent break-ins and thefts in the area, that not only isn’t true but they knew that a White man had been on camera engaging in stealing, which they knew before they murdered Ahmaud. The White thief was never apprehended]. The three men chased Arbery in their trucks, using the vehicles to illegally confine him as he tried to run away. Two of the men, Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, were armed and in one vehicle, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, was in another vehicle. After several minutes, Travis McMichael got out of his truck and threatened Arbery with a shotgun. Arbery attempted to defend himself and Travis shot him three times, murdering him. Bryan recorded their pursuit and murder of Arbery on his cell phone.
Members of the Glynn County Police Department (GCPD) arrived on the scene soon after the shooting, but no arrests were made for more than two months. The GCPD said the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office first advised them to make no arrests then Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill twice advised the GCPD to make no arrests, once before he was officially assigned to the case, and once while announcing his intention to recuse due to a conflict of interest. At the behest of Gregory McMichael, a local attorney provided Bryan’s video to local radio station WGIG, which published the video on May 5. The video went viral on YouTube and Twitter. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested the McMichaels on May 7 and Bryan on May 21, charging them with felony murder and other crimes.
The case was ultimately transferred to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office. On June 24, 2020, a grand jury indicted each of the three men on charges of malice murder, felony murder, and other crimes. Their trial began in November 2021 in the Glynn County Superior Court; all three were convicted on November 24 of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Travis McMichael was further convicted of malice murder. On January 7, 2022, the McMichaels were sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole plus 20 years, with Bryan sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years. On February 22, 2022, the three men were found guilty in a federal court of attempted kidnapping and the hate crime of interference with rights, while the McMichaels were also convicted of one count of using firearms during a crime of violence.”
When Ahmaud was murdered, one of the murderers calls the District Attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit and says “we just killed a man”. The District Attorney replies not to worry about it, and tells the police not to arrest any of them and to let them go. While CSI is on the scene, the father drives the truck Ahmaud was in front of away. The DA goes to great length to keep her word that they have nothing to worry about: Police shut down the investigation after 2 days. At the same time, a lie leaks to the press that Ahmaud was robbing a house so as to justify his slaying. He was never robbing a house. The DA is now under state indictment for obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
“The local authorities’ handling of the case resulted in nationwide criticism and debates on racial profiling in the United States. Many religious leaders, politicians, athletes, and other celebrities condemned the incident. Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr formally requested the intervention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the case on May 10, 2020, which was granted the following day. Former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson was indicted in September 2021 for “showing favor and affection” to Gregory (her former subordinate) during the investigation, and for obstructing law enforcement by directing that Travis not be arrested. In the aftermath of the murder, Georgia enacted hate crimes legislation in June 2020, then repealed and replaced its citizen’s arrest law in May 2021.”