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Jury Selection Begins In Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial

A demonstrator holds a sign at the Glynn County Courthouse as jury selection begins in the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery on October 18, 2021, in Brunswick, Georgia. | Source: Sean Rayford / Getty

On Feb. 23, 2020, two white, wannabe vigilantes in a rural part of Georgia racially profiled Ahmaud Arbery and falsely suspected the unarmed, young Black jogger of being a burglar, armed themselves, jumped in a truck, chased after the young man and shot him to death in the middle of a street in broad daylight after trapping him with their vehicle — all while their good friend readily recorded the modern day lynching with his cellphone.

Never forget

While we can’t forget those truths, it similarly cannot be overlooked how a coverup concocted by Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan was nearly successful, thanks to an incestuous group of local law enforcement who seemingly colluded to keep secret the murder of Arbery, 25.

The McMichaels and Bryan are now convicted murderers who were also found guilty of federal hate crimes, but some people have still not been held accountable for their roles in the infamous murder in a subdivision in the coastal town of Brunswick.

Ahmaud Arbery's killers: Gregory McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael

Ahmaud Arbery’s killers from L-R: Gregory McMichael, William “Roddie” Bryan, Travis McMichael. | Source: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office

People have avoided accountability for Arbery’s murder

Among them is Jackie Johnson, the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney who remains credibly accused of trying to protect the McMichaels and Bryan. She was indicted more than two years ago on one felony count of violating her oath of office and one misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement officer.

But the state of the case against her is seemingly in limbo as it hasn’t moved forward since it got started.

Johnson was charged in September of 2021 after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr requested an investigation that revealed Greg McMichael worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office until he retired in 2019. He called Johnson shortly after shooting Arbery, more than two months before anyone was arrested for the killing.

“Jackie, this is Greg,” McMichael said, according to a recording of the call included in the public case file. “Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”

According to the indictment, Johnson returned the call and not only did she show “favor and affection” toward Greg, but she also interfered with police officers at the scene by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”

In fact, according to the Associated Press, prosecutors listed a total of 16 calls between Greg and Johnson that allegedly occurred in the days and weeks following the shooting.

“She believed him,” Ahmaud Arbery’s father said in November. “Tried to cover it up.”

Johnson isn’t the only person the family wants to hold accountable. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his team have sued Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill, former Glynn County Police Chief Jim Powell, officer Robert Rash and 10 other unnamed police officers. The civil case demands millions in damages and a jury trial.

“We’re going to continue to make sure the course is tracked that everybody who was responsible for the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery and the aftermath, the coverup, the conspiracy, they will be held accountable,” Crump has said.

Jackie Johnson, former Glynn County DA in Georgia charged with obstructing the investigation into Ahmaud Arbery's murder

Jackie Johnson, former Glynn County DA in Georgia charged with obstructing the investigation into Ahmaud Arbery’s murder | Source: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office

Arbery’s killers are also racists

During the state’s murder trial, prosecutors laid out examples from text messages where the McMicahels and Bryan all used racial slurs and made racially insensitive comments leading up to Arbery’s murder.

According to prosecutors, Travis McMichael, the person who fired the fatal shots, texted a friend that he loved his job because “zero n*ggers work with me.” There was also testimony that McMichael said while watching a video of a Black man playing with fireworks, “It’d be cooler if it blew the f*cking n*gger’s head off.” Click here to see the other racist comments.

Convicted and sentenced

On Nov. 24, 2021, the McMichaels and Bryan were convicted of felony murder and other charges for murdering Arbery.

Jan. 7, 2022, a judge handed down life sentences for all three men convicted of murdering Arbery. The guilty verdicts mean the mostly white jury didn’t buy the defendants’ claim that they were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery when Travis McMichael shot him twice at close range with a shotgun.

On Feb. 22, 2022, the McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty of federal hate crimes after a jury agreed that the three white men violated Arbery’s rights because of his race.

The swift verdict was reached after fewer than five total hours of deliberations and just five days in trial.

All three men pleaded not guilty to the hate crimes charges and claimed they didn’t kill Arbery because of his race, but rather they believed he was a criminal.

Desperate appeals

The McMichaels and Bryan last year essentially argued in a desperate appeal of their federal convictions that just because they’re racist doesn’t mean the racism made them murder Arbery.

Bryan’s attorney appeared to be arguing that his client isn’t all that racist while simultaneously arguing that his racism doesn’t automatically make him guilty of a hate crime. Bear in mind that text messages from days before Arbery’s murder revealed that Bryan was willing to disown his daughter after he learned she was dating “a n*gger.”

This is America.


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