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US Brunswick GA: For Black residents of Ahmaud Arbery's hometown, trust in the justice system is on trial right alongside his accused killers

11:40  21 november  2021
11:40  21 november  2021 Source:   cnn.com

All 3 Defendants Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery, Black Jogger Chased Down and Shot in Georgia

  All 3 Defendants Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery, Black Jogger Chased Down and Shot in Georgia Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, after being chased on a suburban Brunswick street by three men who said they believed he was a burglarAll three men charged have been found guilty for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger they believed to be a burglar running on a suburban Georgia street, who they pursued and cornered with their pickups before a physical confrontation in which one of the men fatally shot him.

In Arbery ' s hometown , the trial over his death has underscored the mistrust. "Many people have been saying -- and I've been saying it as well -- that this is really trying our justice system in the eyesight of many people," said John Perry II, a pastor and the former president of the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP who lost a bid this month for Brunswick mayor. "They're looking intently at this case to see, 'Can we really trust this justice system ?' to answer the question in their minds and their hearts, 'Do we have a justice system that we can depend upon?'"

BRUNSWICK , Ga . (AP) — Defense attorneys rested their case in the Ahmaud Arbery trial Thursday after calling just seven witnesses, including the shooter, who testified that Arbery did not threaten him in any way before he pointed his shotgun at the 25-year-old Black man. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley scheduled closing arguments in the trial for Monday, setting up the possibility of verdicts before Thanksgiving for the three white men charged with murder in Arbery ' s death. Under cross-examination by the prosecution on his second day of testimony, Travis McMichael said that Arbery

Carrying signs that read "Justice for Ahmaud," the demonstrators marched past majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss. They chanted Ahmaud Arbery's name as they wound through the streets, past a hardware store, several homes, a convenience store. They rounded the corner by the floral shop, calling for those watching from the sidewalk to join them.

Protesters march from the Glynn County Courthouse to the Brunswick African American Cultural Center. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Protesters march from the Glynn County Courthouse to the Brunswick African American Cultural Center. A handwritten © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN A handwritten "I Run With Maud" sign is seen on the facade of an unoccupied building in Brunswick.

They soon stopped on a lawn of the Brunswick African American Cultural Center, 10 miles from the residential block where Arbery was shot to death. It was the fifth day of testimony in the trial of the White men accused of killing the Black jogger, and dozens of people had gathered for a march that started outside the Glynn County courthouse.

Trial takeaways: Arbery's killer testifies; pastors rally

  Trial takeaways: Arbery's killer testifies; pastors rally BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery took the witness stand to tell jurors he pulled the trigger fearing for his own life. Meanwhile, hundreds of Black pastors rallied outside the Glynn County courthouse in coastal Georgia to show support for the slain 25-year-old Black man's family, compelled by a defense attorney's failed efforts to get prominent civil rights figures barred from the court. The trial of father and sonMeanwhile, hundreds of Black pastors rallied outside the Glynn County courthouse in coastal Georgia to show support for the slain 25-year-old Black man's family, compelled by a defense attorney's failed efforts to get prominent civil rights figures barred from the court.

A protest was held at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick , Ga ., on May 8, 2020, to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery . (Whitney Leaming, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post). BRUNSWICK , Ga . — The weekend before the trial of three White men accused of killing a Black man in what some have called a modern-day lynching, civil rights lawyer Gerald A. Griggs stood outside the county courthouse here and reminded the mostly Black crowd of what they have already accomplished.

Ahmaud Arbery , a 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot in February 2020 outside the city of Brunswick , Georgia. These locals reflect on how the shooting and the trial of his killers has affected their community. Watch: Meghan surprises 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' audience. Rupert Murdoch has a message for Trump. Women' s Tennis Association could pull out of China over missing tennis star. Rittenhouse judge bans MSNBC for remainder of trial . CNN tried Tesla' s 'full self-driving' mode on NYC streets.

Sonia Richardson poses for a portrait outside the Glynn County Courthouse. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Sonia Richardson poses for a portrait outside the Glynn County Courthouse.

At the cultural center, where a mural of Arbery's smiling face sits against a blue and yellow backdrop, Annie Polite took a break, sitting down in her walker.

"The system has got to change," the 87-year-old Black woman said. "It's not fair. There's no justice in what goes on behind close doors. We all deserve equal justice."

That's a sentiment other Black residents of this small Southern city echoed recently as the state presented its case against Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., who stand accused in the pursuit and shooting death of Arbery, 25, on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020. One Black and 11 White jurors will soon weigh their fate.

Jury to deliberate verdict in Ahmaud Arbery's death. Here are key moments from the trial.

  Jury to deliberate verdict in Ahmaud Arbery's death. Here are key moments from the trial. The jury will now decide if Travis and Greg McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan are guilty of murder and other crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.How jurors decide on a verdict could ultimately hinge on how they view Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery and was the only defendant to testify.

Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson blocked police from arresting a father and son for the murder of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery , 25. 'She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael,' said Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker. President Donald Trump commented on the video of Arbery ' s death calling it 'very disturbing'. Lee Merritt, the family's lawyer, said: 'These men were vigilantes, they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day'. Hundreds gathered to protest Arbery ' s murder Friday on what would have been his 26th birthday.

Annie Polite, 87, of Brunswick , Ga ., walks as part of a Wall of Prayer event on Nov. 18 outside the Glynn County Courthouse during the trial of three White men accused of killing an unarmed Black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery . (Stephen B. Morton/AP). Concerns about racial discrimination in the justice system have shadowed the Arbery case from the beginning. They began with local authorities’ response to the February 2020 shooting in coastal Georgia. A prosecutor quickly chalked it up to self-defense and found the three White men — one of whom had worked for the office — justified in chasing an unarmed

For many, the trial is not only about getting justice for Arbery, who'd been dead more than two months before the defendants even were arrested. It's also seen as a fundamental opportunity for the justice system to work the way it should -- fairly and equitably -- for people of every race.

Sadie Rhone, standing at rear left, watches as marchers pass by her home in Brunswick. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Sadie Rhone, standing at rear left, watches as marchers pass by her home in Brunswick.

Across America, 61% of Black adults have little to no confidence in the criminal justice system, a Gallup poll this year found, compared with 41% of White adults. Separately, 88% of Black people feel the criminal justice system favors White people over Black people, compared with 63% of White people who responded to a 2020 CNN/SSRS poll.

In Arbery's hometown, the trial over his death has underscored the mistrust.

"Many people have been saying -- and I've been saying it as well -- that this is really trying our justice system in the eyesight of many people," said John Perry II, a pastor and the former president of the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP who lost a bid this month for Brunswick mayor.

Defense lawyer in Arbery slaying known for pushing limits

  Defense lawyer in Arbery slaying known for pushing limits ATLANTA (AP) — When a defense attorney in the trial of three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery called for Black pastors to be barred from the courtroom, shock and outrage rippled across the country. But for people familiar with his courtroom style, it came as no surprise. A former top public defender whose firing five years ago was condemned by the local NAACP chapter, Kevin Gough is known in legal circles for his dramatic flair in the courtroom. “I’m entirely not shocked at all by what everybody’s been shocked about. It's just classic Kevin Gough,” said Wes Wolfe, who covered Gough as a courts reporter for The Brunswick News from 2016 to 2020.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery , an unarmed 25-year-old black man, was pursued and fatally shot while jogging near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia.

BRUNSWICK , Ga . — After a grueling process that lasted two and a half weeks, a jury was selected on Wednesday in the trial of the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery , the 25-year-old Black man who was chased through a suburban Georgia neighborhood before being fatally shot by one of his Ms. Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor, said in court that she was hoping for jurors who were a “blank slate.” But the killing was one of the most notorious in South Georgia in decades, and many prospective jurors — the court system sent out 1,000 jury notices — said they had already formed opinions about it.

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, holds hands with her sister Linda Ellison, left, while being led in prayer outside the Glynn County Courthouse. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, holds hands with her sister Linda Ellison, left, while being led in prayer outside the Glynn County Courthouse.

"They're looking intently at this case to see, 'Can we really trust this justice system?' ... to answer the question in their minds and their hearts, 'Do we have a justice system that we can depend upon?'"

A quiet wait for answers

While the defendants' actions and motives face scrutiny in court, some Black residents here have their own theories of why Arbery was slain, often based on their experiences in Brunswick, where about 55% of residents are Black compared with 27% countywide.

No doubt many White neighbors -- including some who joined last week's march -- care deeply about bridging a nationwide racial divide laid bare by the killings last year of Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. But ties between Black and White residents in Glynn County generally don't often go deeper than cordiality, said Perry, calling it a "lack of intimacy." Coexisting and "being friendly falls real short of having real intimate connection," he said.

Defense attorney in trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers tries to have Rev. Jesse Jackson removed from courtroom

  Defense attorney in trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers tries to have Rev. Jesse Jackson removed from courtroom Defense attorneys for the three white men on trial for killing Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery had their second attack in a week of Too Many Black Pastors syndrome as they tried to have the Rev. Jesse Jackson thrown out of the courtroom, where he had come to support the family. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said no.“The court is not going to single out any particular individual or group of individuals as not being allowed to be in this courtroom as a member of the public,” Walmsley said, according to NBC News. “If there is a disruption, you’re more than welcome to call that to my attention.” © Terry Dickson The Rev.

Annie Polite poses for a portrait outside the Glynn County Courthouse. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Annie Polite poses for a portrait outside the Glynn County Courthouse.

Aundra Fuller, a middle school special education teacher and the managing director of the Brunswick African American Cultural Center, believes Arbery's deadly shooting stemmed from a gap in mutual understanding as the defendants encountered him along a suburban street, she said.

A lack of "cultural awareness" lent itself to a mindset in which the defendants felt comfortable enough to "devalue a human being because of his color," she said.

Defense attorneys have said the McMichaels and Bryan were trying to conduct a lawful citizen's arrest of Arbery, whom they suspected of burglary. The men chased Arbery through the neighborhood, effectively trapping him, prosecutors have said. After a physical altercation, Travis McMichael shot Arbery to death at close range with a shotgun. Travis McMichael testified in court that he was acting in self-defense as he and Arbery wrestled over his shotgun.

Aundra Fuller stands in front of a mural of Ahmaud Arbery outside the Brunswick African American Cultural Center. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Aundra Fuller stands in front of a mural of Ahmaud Arbery outside the Brunswick African American Cultural Center.

Helen Ladson, a tour guide here who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor, put it this way: "My question is always: Why did they feel so comfortable, to shoot this man in broad daylight and think that they were going to get away with it? Why were they so comfortable?"

Murder trial paints 2 different portrayals of Ahmaud Arbery

  Murder trial paints 2 different portrayals of Ahmaud Arbery A jury is deliberating on the fate of three men accused of killing Arbery. The prosecution and defense gave the nearly all-white jury two vastly different tales of Arbery. The prosecution painted him as a brother, an uncle and a victim, while the defense portrayed him as a prospective criminal.

Long before Arbery's death attracted national attention, there were whispers in this community about the storyline that Arbery had been shot while attempting a burglary, residents said.

James Yancey, a criminal defense attorney who is Black, was struck by how few details about the incident were included in a short article in the local newspaper, he recalled. Perry at the time had similar misgivings.

"Because when you say that a young Black man got shot trying to commit a burglary," he said, key questions come to mind: "Was he armed? Was there a threat to someone's life that caused them to try to protect themselves from the person committing the burglary? We hadn't heard any of those things."

"It's not new," said Dwight E. Jordan, a former state parole officer who is Black. "To hear that the cops or somebody representing themselves as police would turn around and shoot somebody, specifically a person of color, specifically a Black person because he was running while Black -- that's not new to me."

Perry learned his son had played high school football with Arbery. He told his father the one-time linebacker was someone who could make everybody laugh, who was encouraging to underclassmen.

"There was immediately another level of passion," he said. "Because you have them trying to paint the narrative of who Ahmaud was. But then when you started to discover who he was for yourself, it further fueled the outrage that you would try to paint such a negative, negative character upon someone who sowed so many seeds of good within our community."

Facebook posts in Arbery trial reflect online neighbor fear

  Facebook posts in Arbery trial reflect online neighbor fear BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Months before Ahmaud Arbery was killed, shooter Travis McMichael wrote a simple, chilling response to a Facebook post about a suspected car burglary in his Georgia neighborhood: “Arm up.” The item he commented on was sandwiched between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many online communities in the U.S. based around physical neighborhoods. But in the year before Arbery's death, the posts in theThe item he commented on was sandwiched between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many online communities in the U.S. based around physical neighborhoods.

Some soon compared Arbery's killing to that of Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old who was fatally shot in 2012 in Florida by a member of the neighborhood watch who claimed self-defense. The shooter was later acquitted.

"There were people on Facebook that were saying, 'Hey, y'all talking about Trayvon Martin, but we have a Trayvon Martin case right here, and nobody is saying anything about it,'" Ladson remembered.

The tension erupts -- but unsurprisingly, somehow

It was only after video of the shooting, filmed by Bryan, publicly emerged in early May 2020 that the McMichaels and Bryan were arrested.

The community's tension erupted. Fuller called it "shocking." Perry was "appalled." And Yancey was "incredulous" that authorities had not released the footage sooner. The Brunswick district attorney at that time was later indicted on charges of violating her oath as a public officer and obstructing a police officer in connection with her alleged actions following Arbery's death.

Then-prosecutor Jackie Johnson had directed two Glynn County police officers not to place Travis McMichael under arrest immediately following the shooting, according to her indictment. She was also accused of violating her oath of office by "showing favor and affection" to Greg McMichael, a former investigator in her office.

But as upsetting as the video was, it didn't surprise Black residents here.

"Having been Black my entire life, lived in America my entire life, it's become almost expected to see bad things happen to Black people," Yancey said. "Seeing that video, it just continued to confirm the value of the lives of particularly Black men in America."

Asked what he thought when he saw the video, Jordan quoted Childish Gambino: "This is America."

Nurse Sonia Richardson, mother to three Black sons and grandchildren, "just couldn't believe that."

Their own words may have doomed men who killed Ahmaud Arbery

  Their own words may have doomed men who killed Ahmaud Arbery The video of Ahmaud Arbery's shotgun death was a shocking piece of evidence that suddenly brought the Black man's killing into the national consciousness. But the murder convictions of the three white men who chased him may have been secured by their own words to investigators the day of the shooting. Greg McMichael, who was in the bed of a pickup truck when his son killed Arbery, told police the Black man "was trapped like a rat" and he toldBut the murder convictions of the three white men who chased him may have been secured by their own words to investigators the day of the shooting.

"It was like (the case) was just toyed around with, like people didn't take it serious. The law didn't take it serious. Our criminal justice system didn't take it serious," she said.

The episode shook Perry's faith in the justice system, he said.

"There was nothing that we could do about the McMichaels' decision (to pursue Arbery). What's in the heart of a man and how he chooses to act, you can't control that," he said. "But if something like that does happen, you're definitely hoping that when law enforcement shows up, that they're going to make an arrest, that they're going to say this is injust, and that as a civil society, this is not how we operate. But that's not what we got."

Perry was grateful for the work of state Attorney General Chris Carr and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case around the time the video came out. With their involvement, Perry is confident some level of justice will prevail. But as a citizen, he wondered, "Should I have to reach that high to get justice on a local level?"

"We're trusting them to be enforcers of justice," he said. "And this gross incident happens, and they turn a blind eye."

Lady Justice faces a moment of truth

As the jury deliberates, these Black residents largely are optimistic, hopeful for guilty verdicts for all three defendants. And the jury's racial makeup presents an opportunity, Fuller said: If a jury of one Black person and 11 White people convicts three White men in a Black man's killing, the convictions would appear unimpeachable.

"The jury is charged with following the law," the special ed teacher said. "And if they follow the law, it doesn't matter what color they are. So, it may be surprising that this all-White jury convicts them."

But she, like others, is braced for disappointment. Acquittals in the case would be "just another day at the beach" for Black people in America, she said. "We've had injustice for so long ... we don't expect justice."

Perry believes in an "absolute truth," which to him means the defendants will be found guilty. But it also means seeing the justice system live up to the promise that "justice is blind -- it doesn't take into consideration color."

"To see the process of justice function like the promise of justice, that's what justice looks like for me," he said.

"At the end of the day, who's on trial here is the United States, the judicial system," said Jordan, the former parole officer. "Lady Justice has to show that she can peep every now and then to see the injustice, to see that her scales are unbalanced and try to balance it if she can do it -- if she's willing to do it."

Back at the march, Polite got up out of her walker and stepped forward to kneel with protesters, clergy people and members of Arbery's family to pray for that justice.

"This is a battle that's been going on all of my life, and it still goes on," she said. "As long as there's a fight, I must stay in the battle."

Their own words may have doomed men who killed Ahmaud Arbery .
The video of Ahmaud Arbery's shotgun death was a shocking piece of evidence that suddenly brought the Black man's killing into the national consciousness. But the murder convictions of the three white men who chased him may have been secured by their own words to investigators the day of the shooting. Greg McMichael, who was in the bed of a pickup truck when his son killed Arbery, told police the Black man "was trapped like a rat" and he toldBut the murder convictions of the three white men who chased him may have been secured by their own words to investigators the day of the shooting.

usr: 1
This is interesting!