Ahmaud Arbery Was Just Another Old Fashioned American Lynching
Ahmaud Arbery was just another lynching or murder by a mob with no due process or rule of law. Across the US, thousands of African Americans were lynched by white mobs, often by hanging or torture, in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
According to the lawmakers, at least 4,742 people were reported lynched in the US between 1882 and 1968. In 99% of cases the perpetrators escaped punishment.
Historically, we have thought of these lynchers in terms of “rogue mobs” where the perpetrators were “irrational and out of control,” when the reality is they acted in an intentional and premeditated way. Historically, police have been part of lynch mobs which makes sense as failures of due process and enforcing the rule of law initially starts with police interaction with the public at large.
The New York Times Reports:
“Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed after an encounter with the McMichaels, who are white. Mr. Arbery was killed in Satilla Shores, a quiet middle-class enclave about 15 minutes from downtown Brunswick and a short jog from Mr. Arbery’s neighborhood. A police report said the McMichaels had grabbed two guns and followed Mr. Arbery in a truck after he ran past them. The shooting happened on Feb. 23, but the case did not receive broader attention until recently, after a video was widely shared showing the shooting. Officials on Friday said that the video had been “a very important piece” of evidence in moving forward with criminal charges.”
The DA Is Failing Ahmaud Arbery
The District Attorney presents cases to the grand jury. The case is only as strong as the DA makes it out to be. More than a few who didn’t want to get indictments in cases didn’t get indictments. Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo (who is also on video killing his victim) can affirm.
NYU Law Professor Dr. Rebecca J. Kavanaugh has highlighted how the failure of three district attorneys in Georgia to bring charges against the two White men who killed Ahmaud Arbery until yesterday demonstrates why a federal anti-lynching law needs to be enacted now. In this case, that doesn’t mean that the federal Department of Justice cannot take the Ahmaud Arbery case now. They are empowered to do it under existing hate crimes legislation, but considering they have consistently dropped the ball in cases like these (shooting of unarmed black men by law enforcement) while exonerating white men who plead guilty to crimes, we need a concrete statute on the books.
Although DA Durden, who has the case now, says he will present it to a grand jury, we should not feel confident that this will mean it will be indicted, let alone go to trial, or that the two men, Travis and Gregory McMichael, will be convicted. DA Durden could have been had the two men arrested as there was ample probable cause, charged, and held in jail until the case is presented to a grand jury. The fact he didn’t do it until yesterday suggests reservation about prosecuting the case. Moreover, Durden only said he would present the case to the grand jury when the video of the killing leaked. He has had that video from the beginning. Those are not the actions of a DA who wants to zealously prosecute a horrific criminal act.
The McMichaels are being held in the county jail and the District Attorney still has the case. Arrest and charges are a positive first step, but the next test is arraignment where bail will be set. The DA will ask for bail or remand and the court could set it; however, neither of those things are guaranteed.
Gregory McMichael was a cop. The reason we are here is most likely due to a coverup by the local police who weren’t even the body to arrest the McMichaels (Georgia Bureau of Investigations).
Given these facts and under these circumstances, at a bare minimum, a special prosecutor should be appointed. Federal authorities charging these men with hate crimes would be even better. This is a Trump Administration we are loving under with Bill Barr running the Department of Justice. I hope I’m wrong, but I am not holding my breath that the death of Ahmaud Arbery will result in anything other than more of the same. Afterall, lynching black men is as American as apple pie.