Fri. 5/8: Update – Standing indivisible with Ahmaud Arbery. Keep calling – this isn’t finished.

Quote from #irunwithmaud

Update 5/8/2020 – The Third Man: Thanks to the huge public reaction to the cellphone video of a young black man being murdered-while-jogging, the two men involved have finally been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.  We are waiting on whether the man who filmed the incident, William Bryan, will be charged, as well.

We also now know that the former attorney for the Gregory and Travis McMichaels, Alan David Tucker, was the one who released the video on Tuesday.

For all of you who took the time to sign the petition below and make calls and emails to protest this injustice, thank you. We shouldn’t have to ring phones off the desks, but we will.

Action #1 – Sign the petition.

Petition: Go to RunWithMaud.com (sponsored by The Action Pac, which supports campaigns to stop racism and bigotry in America) and sign a petition to demand that the Department of Justice and FBI investigate both the crime and the corruption of justice. “In light of overwhelming public pressure, the Georgia Bureau of investigation has arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael, but our work is not done. The third suspect, William Bryan, has yet to be arrested. The FBI must bring hate crime charges against the three men, and all parts of the trial process must be moved outside of Glynn County in this case, due to the suspects deep ties to the community and its leadership.”

Update: As of today, 5/8/2020, the petition has over 1.5 million signatures. Keep adding on. It just takes a second.

Action #2 – Tweet for the NAACP

NAACP petition

Recent incidents are reminiscent of an atrocious era of hate and domestic terrorism where police officers and white protesters routinely brutalized African-Americans. The senseless death displays the continuance of systematic racism and privilege granted to white people in America.

It’s time to let our leaders know that We Are Done Dying.

Sample tweet: .@GovKemp, Black lives are not disposable. I stand with the NAACP in calling for justice for Ahmaud Arbery, and the immediate resignation of the Jackie Johnson, the District Attorney who mishandled the case. #WeAreDoneDying https://bit.ly/2xFGpjs

Go here to tweet.

Action #3 – Make the calls

(There are instructions in the call itself, but for those who need something to read, we’ve put together a script to help. Remember, stay polite and focused. If anyone asks why you’re interested in a case so far away, quote some truth from Martin Luther King. 

MLK quote

Update: Adding in the 3rd man.

Minimal script: All three men who were involved in the trapping and murder of Ahmaud Arbery, , the McMichaels and William Bryan, should be in jail and their crime should be investigated as the hate crime that it is. Although the first two district attorneys on this case, Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill, had access for months to the same video we have just seen, they failed in their sworn duty and should not only be fired, but investigated for legal malpractice.

Contact: Click this link or call directly to 770-800-0689 to be connected to a series of local, state and federal offices.

UPDATED 5/8/2020: WTH happened here? 

(Warning – the video below shows an innocent person being murdered.)

On Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was on his daily jog in a Brunswick, GA neighborhood when a former police officer, Gregory McMichael, and his son Travis grabbed their guns and chased him down in their pickup truck, telling him that they wanted to “talk to him” regarding a series recent break-ins in the area.  After leaving Arbery dead in the street, Gregory McMichael told police he had seen the same man “the other night” and that he stuck his hand down his pants on that occasion, leading McMichael to believe he was armed, according to a Glynn County Police report.

First, DA Jackie L. Johnson, the prosecutor for the Brunswick judicial district recused herself, as Gregory McMichael had worked in her office as an investigator.  DA Johnson’s statement here. (2 images) Update 5/8/2020: DA Jackie Johnson’s history of recusals and legal ethics are spotty when it comes to issues with law enforcement personnel. (Details here and here.) In an earlier case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) had asked her about how her personal relationship with a judge, or a working relationship with another court office, was different than her relationship with the local police, as the basis for a decision to recuse herself, which she did not answer.

What were her options? She had access to the same video the world has now seen. At the very least, she could have arrested all of the perpetrators for cause and then immediately brought in a special prosecutor and involved the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. But she sent it sideways, to another DA. Time is the great fader of urgency and memory.

Update 5/8/2020: Getting out ahead of an official statement, Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy said Friday that District Attorney Jackie Johnson stopped Glynn County Police officers from arresting Gregory McMichael and his adult son Travis after they allegedly shot Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23.”

Next, the case was reassigned to the district attorney in Waycross, Georgia –  George E. Barnhill. After receiving the autopsy report on 4/1/2020, he wrote a letter to Glynn County police (letter here), stating that the McMichaels were within in their rights to pursue “a burglary suspect,” and “allowed to use deadly force to protect himself” under Georgia law. (Not true. This is the real law here.) S. Lee Merrett stated “The decision to rely on the citizen’s arrest statute is really a recent invention, prior to that they just simply said it was self-defense.” Merritt says now the men are trying to use the law to say they were trying to stop a crime. “According to that law, you actually have to be observing the crime or be in the immediate knowledge of the crime. The only thing they have ever said is … that Ahmaud stopped by a house that was under construction and he looked through the window. We don’t know if that happened or not, but even if that did happen that is not a felony that would invoke the citizen’s arrest statute that would make this allowable.”)

Next comes the criminalization of the victim, designed to make it seem perfectly reasonable that he deserved an impromptu death sentence for deciding to jog that sunny day. (Remember that the public hadn’t seen the video he’s describing in his letter yet.)

DA Barnhill stated in his letter that “Arbury’s mental health records & prior convictions help explain his apparent aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man.” Arbery had been convicted of shoplifting and five years earlier, he’d been indicted on charges that he took a handgun to a high school basketball game. Merrett stated that “The reference to… alleged conduct from high school or shoplifting is absurd and has nothing to do with his murder.

However, these details are necessary to explain why a unarmed black man, suddenly faced with a vehicle cutting across his path, another parked behind him, two white men yelling at him and advancing upon him with visible weapons, could now be considered the aggressor in the story, and not the victim. Barnhill concluded his written defense of the McMichaels’ behavior with “…it is our conclusion there is insufficient probable cause to issue arrest warrents at this time.”

Without access to the video, Arbery’s mother could only believe the Glynn County deputies who told her that her son was shot while burglarizing a home by the homeowner. Greg McMichael was listed as a “witness” in the report. Then she learned of McMichael’s close connection to local law enforcement and that DA Barnhill’s son had worked with the prosecutor Jackie Johnson. Barnhill was then forced to recuse himself from the case.

Third times the charm, PLUS someone leaked the video: After Barnhill’s recusal, the state attorney general’s office assigned the case to Hinesvilles, GA prosecutor, Tom Durden. Durden decided to punt, sending the case to a grand jury, whenever they were able to reconvene. Interestingly, it’s the same day, May 5th, that the graphic cellphone video, showing the deadly confrontation that contradicts the McMichaels’ story,  was leaked to the public. It is possible that the case might have been dismissed without the publicity from the video. Merritt said a “false narrative was constructed where the victim was slandered as a criminal with mental health concerns.” (Both Durden’s press release and Merrett’s letter are attached below.) Update 5/8/2020: The person who leaked the video was criminal defense attorney Alan David Tucker, former attorney for the McMichaels.

“This case was all kinds of backward”

It’s gone international now,” said Gerald Griggs, an attorney with the Atlanta NAACP. “There’s some serious anger out there…This case was all kinds of backward. That video should’ve been shown to a magistrate by the police and an arrest warrant should’ve been issued for (the McMichaels).”

That this video was known to law enforcement for months has caused a form of cognitive dissonance…

The Georgia NAACP  stated “We demand that District Attorneys Jackie Johnson of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit and George Barnhill of the Waycross Judicial Circuit resign, effective immediately,” said James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP. “Their inaction in this case has led to the mismanagement of the judicial process and has further harmed the trust of the Brunswick community.”

On Tuesday evening about 200 protesters, some wearing protective face masks, marched in Arbery’s honor on the street where he was shot. Kevin Smith, Arbery’s first cousin, led the march, alternating between angry demands of vengeance and calls for peace. “We want the media to see that we’re together, we’re not breaking windows. We’re not these other cities. We’re having a conversation.”

Neither McMichael has been arrested yet. Update 5/8/2020: Yes, they have. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was asked by Durden on May 5th to help a special prosecutor investigate the Arbery’s death. Yesterday evening their officers arrested and charged Gregory and Travis McMichael of murder and aggravated assault.

(Attached are Durden’s press release and that of the Arbery family’s attorney.)

 

image.png

Merrett

 

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