[Editor’s note: It’s being reported this morning that police have finally arrested two men for the February murder of a Black jogger named Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Glynn County, Georgia. As veteran Georgia journalist and commentator Jay Bookman explains in the essay below that ran yesterday in our sibling publication, the Georgia Recorder, it’s an outrage that it took this long.]
Waycross DA’s judgment of Brunswick shooting video ‘insane’
Somebody thought the video of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery had to be made public if Arbery and his family were to get a chance at justice.
That unknown somebody was right.
The 36-second video of Arbery’s death is a brutal, difficult thing to watch. It looks for all the world like a modern lynching.
Even more damning, it makes the government response to Arbery’s death look exactly like a modern coverup of a lynching. It makes it look as if a brutal case of unprovoked racist vigilante violence has been sanctioned by a racist government, as if it’s 1920 not 2020.
The facts, briefly, are these:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in late February, Arbery, 25, was jogging down the middle of a quiet suburban street near Brunswick on the Georgia coast. He was wearing jogging clothes – shorts, T-shirt, Nikes — as he always did on his regular runs.
Arbery was Black. Two white men decided that the Black man jogging through their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon was a burglar. They armed themselves and began to pursue him in a vehicle. They cornered Arbery, cut him off from all means of escape, and ended up shooting him three times. He died at the scene. He didn’t have a gun, he didn’t have a TV set smuggled in his running shorts.
More than two months later, no charges have been filed; no arrests had been made.
The first few times I watched the graphic video of Arbery’s killing, which surfaced Tuesday, I was trying to hope that it was new evidence, that the decision made weeks ago by local prosecutors not to file charges had come before the video came to light, before they had the benefit of seeing for themselves what had happened.
That hope was in vain. It turns out that local prosecutors have had the damning video from the beginning, and had made the decision not to prosecute despite having seen it. They also refused to release the video to the public, until someone, someone with access to it, decided it had to be seen. Read more