Ahmaud Arbery should still be alive, but on February 23, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William Bryan determined that he should die. His crime was existing as a free Black man in America. The McMichaels and Bryan hunted him down like he was a frightened animal, and then Travis McMichael shot him dead. They almost got away with it. Gregory McMichael was a former Glynn County, Georgia, police officer, so he knew the best lies to tell: Arbery “fit the description" of a criminal, and the “suspect" resisted arrest. Arbery's killing was simply “self-defense."

Derek Chauvin and the Minneapolis Police Department tried to pass off a similar character assassination after Chauvin executed George Floyd. Fortunately, a civilian recorded what actually happened. Bryan wasn't concerned about justice when he filmed his impromptu snuff movie, nor was Gregory McMichael when he released it. They actually believed the footage would bolster their case. They're idiots, and while that's not against the law, the murder of a Black man still is.

Wednesday, the Glynn County grand jury returned an indictment with nine counts each against the McMichaels and Bryan: malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Those last two counts are important to me: A Georgia grand jury agreed that these racist assholes had no right to pursue or detain Arbery. He was free to jog through their Satilla Shores neighborhood. He was even free to stop and admire a construction project. He was free, damnit, and this is supposed to be America.


District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes of Cobb County convinced the grand jury to indict these three ham sandwiches in 10 minutes. She's a Black woman, and two previous white prosecutors, particularly Ware County's George E. Barnhill, were willing to let Arbery's killers walk. Some people might dismiss a Black prosecutor as “just a cop," but personally, I like having a cop on my side for a change.

From the New York Times:

"This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud," Ms. Holmes said in a statement, adding, "We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues."

Journalist Justin Glawe reported that Bryan's lawyer declared that his client is “presumed innocent, but he has already lost his job." Arbery was actually innocent — no presumption necessary — and he lost his life. Bryan's lawyer went on to say that several of Bryan's family members had lost their jobs, as well. It was unclear if this was COVID-19-related or racism-related, but really, times are tough all over.

Bryan's lawyer said his client “disagreed" with the grand jury's decision. That's hilarious. It reminds me of a scene from “Law & Order" where the attorney representing a couple of rich scumbags informs the judge that “my clients aren't interested in any jail time." The judge responds, deadpan, “I'm sure they aren't."

Thea Brooks, Arbery's aunt, told Glawe:

I am praising God for another victory we have won. It is now time to go to trial. I expect things to continue to move in a positive direction with the hopes of life in prison, no parole or execution.

This is a good start, but as Malcolm X famously said, “I'm not satisfied." I agree with James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, who said Barnhill and Brunswick, Georgia, District Attorney Jackie Johnson “refused to do their jobs" and should be removed from office before they let any other weekend lynchers skate. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that petitions to have Johnson and Barnhill removed from office could go forward. Georgia lawmakers are also working to pass a hate-crimes bill. This is all a good start but I'll never be satisfied because Ahmaud Arbery never lived to see 26.

Malcolm X (1992) - They're Brothers of Brother Johnson youtu.be

[The New York Times / Justin Glawe Twitter]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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