Ahmaud Arbery was out on a jog in the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, when Gregory McMichael saw him and thought he resembled the suspect of recent break-ins in the area.
Gregory and his son, Travis, pursued Mr. Arbery in their pick-up truck and armed themselves. Video footage of Travis appearing to fire a gun towards Mr. Arbery, killing him.
On May 5, the video was published by a Brunswick radio station. It was heavily circulated through Twitter and YouTube, and was also retweeted by the Arbery family attorney.
After the video’s release, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were bought in to handle the case, and Gregory and Travis McMichael were charged with murder and aggravated assault.
No arrests were made from the killing in February, until April 2020. There was a social media outcry demanding that the killers of Ahmaud Arbery be brought to justice.
Mr. Arbery was also an African-American man and, most importantly, was unarmed. He was out on a jog, doing nothing that could cause harm to others. Despite him looking like the suspect, it didn’t give anyone the right to just assume without asking, or at least checking.
One doesn’t simply wake up, decide to go out and kill someone without a reason. Undoubtedly, this was a hate crime directed towards a black man because of the colour of his skin.
The problem in this case lays in the action, or rather inaction, of the government and police.
This lack of action follows the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s refusal to treat the virus as a serious threat to his nation’s population. There have been many protests taking place in America recently, with people protesting to be let out of their houses to take part in non-essential activities.
In all the videos you see, take note that these are all white people protesting against a virus – and the police don’t do anything to make them stop.
They are pushing against the police, shouting, and making a scene, some with guns as well. And bear in mind, this isn’t a simple 20 people, but at least 200 people, and possibly even more.
However, had this been a group of black people or a racial minority, guns would be raised, they would be getting tazed, and the police would be a lot more violent. But because they are white protesters, the police stand and do nothing.
Another example of a video that recently surfaced on Twitter – a black man was at a gas station filling up his car with his son when he was approached by two officers where a discourse broke out and the man was eventually tazed. Right in front of his son, who was picked up by the other officer and carried away from the scene.
Of course, from a short video like this you can’t tell the reasoning for their actions. But it seemed like a casual setting, with their child – that child won’t forget seeing their father like that. And once again, the man was unarmed.
Noticing a similarity yet?
Historically, black people have always been racially segregated.
Slavery, separate drinking fountains, different train cars and seats on the bus – all the things we learn in school. But despite us being educated on treating all people the same no matter their appearance, humanity still doesn’t learn.
In 2014, young 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland police officers when they mistook his toy gun for an actual gun. The police officers in question were not charged.
There are so many examples of black people of many backgrounds, ages and genders being wrongfully killed when unarmed because of their colour of skin – ending with the police officers not being charged, either. Think back to Rodney King in 1991. It was the first ever case which found evidence submitted in the form of a video recording of a group of white police officers assaulting King. They were’t prosecuted either.
It seems that even decades later, the authorities still don’t know how to deal with it. Without the public outcry, they would’ve let Ahmaud become just another dead young black man.
It has been around 2 months since this incident, and only five or six days ago was action actually taken to find the killers and bring them to justice.
The government have failed the racially segregated, POC communities so many times and Ahmaud Arbery sadly belongs to those numbers. Without the public outcry this case has received, police would’ve forgotten him, too.
Unfortunately, it will most likely be a while before these figures take proper action. The countless lives that were taken at their corrupt hands deserve justice.
Words by Amelia Oprean