After marching for Justice for Ahmaud Arbery for nearly two years, I can’t believe I’m writing this piece. Few people know this, but I was one of the first to learn of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder by three armed vigilantes. I’ve seen some brutal cases in my 17 years as a lawyer, and this one was by far one of the worst.
With Arbery’s Attorney, Lee Merritt, Activist and Journalist, Shaun King, the Georgia NAACP, and Media Strategist, Dontaye Carter, we developed a strategy to raise awareness about this murder. We launched the video on social media, and we traveled to Brunswick to take a stand for Justice.
Seventy days after Arbery’s murder, everyday people worldwide helped us make the video go viral. They were just shocked and appalled, and it forced Georgia into the International spotlight. Activists, Attorneys, and Citizens contacted the GBI. In my capacity as the Attorney for the Georgia NAACP, I personally spoke with the GBI Director to make sure that a full investigation and charges would be pursued. We took bus trips from Atlanta with State Lawmakers and walked the scene, and talked with witnesses. We helped the citizens of Glynn elevate their voices for Justice in peaceful protests.
Millions of Americans ran with Maud, and the criminal justice system responded with a predominately white jury except for one Black person. They ignored our calls for diversity in court.
When our Civil Rights Icons traveled to Brunswick to keep the eyes of this nation on the lack of Justice for Arbery, the attorneys for the McMichaels said they didn’t want any more Black pastors in the courtroom. At every turn for Justice, they’ve tried to silence us.
We don’t have time to be silenced when the red clay that runs beneath our feet cries for Justice. Lynchings aren’t a pastime for us. Lynchings are our todays, our tomorrows, and lie in the future for our children.
Now is the time to send a message that we demand Justice for Ahmaud. You can’t make a citizen’s arrest for a non-felony. The law says, “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.” Furthermore, the McMichael’s never told police during the initial investigation that they were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.
It’s time to send a clear message that Freedom Summer 2020 hasn’t stopped. Now that the trial has begun, many emotions flow through our community, but the main focus remains Justice, and we are hopeful for the family of Arbery. After hundreds of marches through Southeast Georgia and Metro Atlanta, the community is marching to the courthouse for Justice. We hope that Georgia gets this right. Our ancestors depend on Georgia to get this right. The call for Justice won’t stop until they value our lives because Black Lives Matter. Justice for every Black person murdered because of racism matters. I stand with the families in Georgia and across the nation. The Atlanta and Georgia NAACP will continue to fight for Justice.
What do we want?
When do we want it?