Ahmaud Arbery's Last Moments Filled With More Racism Than We Knew, But As Much As We Expected
William Bryan, who filmed Armaud Arbery's gruesome death, presumably for the next KKK-sponsored independent film festival, was charged with felony murder in late May. Since then he's been singing like Mariah Carey in '95. According to testimony Thursday from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, Bryan claimed Travis McMichael shouted, “fucking n***er" after fatally shooting Arbery.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified in court that Bryan and his alleged accomplices, Gregory and Travis McMichael, chased Arbery through the streets of the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia, on suspicion of appreciating architecture. Arbery tried desperately to avoid them, which annoyed the sport-hunting vigilantes.
Bryan "made several statements about trying to block [Arbery] in and using his vehicle to try to stop him," Dial said. "His statement was that Mr. Arbery kept jumping out of the way and moving around the bumper and actually running down into the ditch in an attempt to avoid his truck."
Arbery had almost made it out of the neighborhood when the McMichaels forced him to turn back and run past Bryan, who struck him with his truck.
Investigators found a swipe from a palm print on the rear door of Bryan's truck, cotton fibers near the truck bed that "we attribute to contact with Mr. Arbery" and a dent below the fibers, he said.
Yeah, those excellent KKKeystone cops on the scene — and two local DA's before the third turned it over to the GBI — missed that the dead black guy was recently hit by a moving vehicle.
Testimony claims Travis McMichael called Ahmaud Arbery n-word after killing him www.youtube.com
Georgia has no hate crime laws, but perhaps the next US Attorney General Doug Jones, should he not retain his US Senate seat, ideally could slap the McMichaels and Bryan with federal charges next year once the Trump trash is taken out. When someone with a Confederate flag sticker on their truck is chasing you, it's safe to assume that the “n-word" is one of the eight or so words in their vocabulary. I still wish Arbery didn't have to hear it in his dying moments. As Richard Pryor observed, the epithet makes you feel like you're not a person anymore. “It fucks all your balance up."
It didn't matter to Travis McMichael who Arbery was. He'd already determined what Arbery was. And law enforcement was eager to support his findings.
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) www.youtube.com
The McMichaels and Bryan probably thought they'd committed the perfect murder when they hunted Arbery down and killed him. They had a pleasant chat with the police over Arbery's dead body and went home without any of the hassles a black man might experience if he tried to buy a candy bar with a fake $20.
What a world!
Unfortunately, Gregory McMichael leaked the video because, as impossible it is to believe, he's as dumb as he looks. He wasn't a team player in this cover-up. The McMichaels already had two districts attorneys serving for the defense. The first, Jackie Johnson, recused herself because McMichael used to work for her. The second and worst, George E. Barnhill, declared there was “insufficient cause to arrest" Arbery's killers and argued that everyone involved "acted legally under Georgia's citizen arrest and self-defense laws." Barnhill should lose his job and his license to practice law, and be charged with obstruction of justice.
The only reason the case didn't end with Barnhill is because Arbery's family pressured him to recuse himself. They couldn't just grieve and trust the system to work as it should (though arguably it worked as it was designed). No, Arbery's loved ones had to start their own side business, hiring their own attorney to see that justice was done. Black people don't have the luxury of law enforcement serving as their “protection agency," as it does for people like Amy Cooper.
William Bryan and Gregory and Travis McMichael should all rot in jail, but we can't stop there. We must dismantle the corrupt system they almost successfully exploited.
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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).