On February 23, a young black man was running in the Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood near his home while two white men followed him on his route by truck. As the black man continued to run, the white men tried to cut him off in a truck two times, but he simply ran around it. Then, the truck pulled in front of the black man a third time, so he tried to go around it again. As he ran around the truck, he was met by an armed man who proceeded to let off multiple shotgun shots, killing the black man.
The victim of this incident was 25 year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a name almost everyone in America knows at this point. But for over two months, Arbery’s murder was not brought to the general public’s attention. Not only did it not get the national press that should have been immediate, but the men who committed the crime were not charged until more than two months after the incident occurred.
The men charged with Arbery’s death have been identified as father and son Gregory and Travis McMicheal, who said that they did not know Arbery and “did not see him do anything other than run down the road but knew instinctively he was a criminal” (S. Lee Merritt) Even after police arrived on the scene and assessed the situation, the McMicheals were free to go on about their lives. It was only after the video of Arbery’s murder spread across social media that the two men were arrested.
As much as social media is condemned for its sometimes trivial content, the way it was used to bring attention to a situation that was unknown outside of South Georgia is exactly what it should be used for. All within the same hour, Instagram user’s timelines were flooded with posts mourning Arbery’s death. Celebrities such as LeBron James, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart and many more began posting about the tragedy, which eventually led to the case being brought to a grand jury and the McMichaels being taken into custody. As of June 4th, the McMichaels are participating in a probable cause hearing, which revealed that according to defendant William Bryan Jr, the man who recorded the video, “Travis McMichael declared “F****** n*****” as he stood over the body of Ahmaud Arbery” (S. Lee Merritt), making it more likely that the McMichaels may be charged with a hate crime.
What is craziest to me about this whole situation is the reasoning why the McMichaels felt obligated to murder Arbery: because he “fit the description” of a neighborhood burglar. Not because they had proof or they had seen him commit such a crime, but because they thought he looked suspicious. Because he fit the description of someone who would commit a crime in America: a black man.
Rest in peace
and every other innocent black person killed at the hands of racism and police brutality in America.