Ahmaud Arbery, only minutes later, would be chased down by a father and son team of rednecks who murdered him in the middle of Satilla Drive. For 59 days, no action was taken by law enforcement.
Simply Out for a Jog
The events were as follows. Around 1:00 p.m. Arbery was out for a jog. He slowed to a walk on Satilla Drive and stopped to look at a new home under construction. He did not illegally enter the home nor did he take anything from the construction site. But an old white man across the street stepped into his front yard and watched Arbery. The young man left the property without being ordered and without engaging anyone in conversation. He resumed his jog.
Immediately, a call came into the Glynn County dispatcher’s office.
Dispatcher: And you said someone is breaking into it right now?
Caller: No, it's all open. It's under construction. And he's running right now. Here he goes right now.
Dispatcher: OK, what is he doing?
Caller: He's running down the street.
White People Panic
The simple action of running away caused white people to react.
The old white man standing in his yard was Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer. His son, Travis McMichael, was with him. Gregory McMichael was the one who made the call. The McMichaels grabbed a handgun and a shotgun and jumped into a pickup truck and started chasing Ahmaud Arbery.
They chased Arbery and tried to cut him off. Each time, Mr. Arbery simply ran around the truck. The McMichaels got in front of him with the truck and Travis McMichael blocked Arbery’s path, brandishing a shotgun. Arbery tried to avoid him but the two of them wound up wrestling for the shotgun.
Three shots were fired and Ahmaud Arbery was killed in the middle of Satilla Drive.
There was no investigation by the Glenn County police Department or the district attorney's office because Gregory McMichael had been a police officer in Glenn County comma the Department first responsible for investigating the case.
Two district attorneys recused themselves because Gregory McMichael had been a member of their team. In fact, the second District Attorney said that Travis McMichael acted in self-defense. He said it was “perfectly legal to let two armed white men pursue an unarmed young black man.”
The second DA’s document—and I have seen it—reads as follows.
“While we know that Mr. McMichael had his finger on the trigger, we do not know who caused the firings.” Firings. Plural.
There were three shots fired.
The weapon carried by Travis McMichael was not an automatic shotgun. It was a pump-action 12-gauge. So, you're telling me that McMichael was able to pump another shell into the chamber while Ahmaud Arbery caused the firings? And McMichael was able to do that twice?
It looked like the case was going to be buried by the COVID-19 news. Eventually, however, two videos were released. I have watched them both.
The first video was a surveillance video taken from the home immediately at the right of the McMichaels’ home. In the 22-minute video Mr. Arbery shows up near the 13-minute mark. You see him slow to a walk, look at the new construction and walk up to it and look at it. You also see McMichael stepping into his front yard and leaning against a tree. No words are exchanged and Arbery walks off the construction site and begins to jog again. McMichael immediately disappears into his house, apparently to place the phone call to the dispatchers office.
No break in and no illegal trespassing,
The next video was released only recently. It was actually recorded by a friend of the McMichaels. That friend turned it over to his attorney, Alan Tucker. Tucker then leaked the video. When asked if he thought that video was going to help the McMichaels, Tucker replied, “I thought it was going to help the truth.”
The Community and the Governor React
The community rose up in anger. Georgia’s governor got involved and directed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to examine everything. The McMichaels were arrested and, on Friday, May 8, 2020, both McMichaels were charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Everyone wants to see justice done. But this isn't just about two inbred crackers in Georgia acting on their own racial hatred. It's more than that.
The Legacy of Slavery
That case was almost buried. Georgia law enforcement, at least on a County level, was not going to investigate one of their own—one of their own being former law enforcement and white—in order to bring justice to a murdered young African-American man.
Over 150 years after the abolition of slavery, over 60 years after the end of Jim Crow laws, the stench of white supremacy is still unbearable. Even though slavery is over, we still have slave patrols—those deputized white men who freely patrol the streets looking for African-Americans who are “not where they are supposed to be.”
Too many times law enforcement would use a code on their reports when an African-American was murdered. They would write on their report NHI. No humans involved. And that's the way Whites, especially white law enforcement, viewed our African-American brothers and sisters. Or, at least, my African-American brothers and sisters. I won't speak for you.
Let's call this what it is. Caught on video, Ahmaud Arbery was lynched.