May 12, 2020

Ahmaud Arbery

“Georgia’s attorney general on Sunday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the handling of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who authorities say died at the hands of two white men as he ran through a neighborhood. Arbery was shot and killed Feb. 23. No arrests were made until this month after national outrage over the case swelled when video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting.” AP News

Many on both sides agree that the killing was unjustified and racially motivated:

“What reasonable person decides to chase down, with a loaded gun, another human who they merely suspect of wrongdoing? Gregory McMichael and his cohorts might have thought they were playing a heroic role in getting a ‘bad guy’ off the streets, but they instead robbed an innocent man of his right to life, justice, and due process

“Some, like Barnhill, may argue the McMichaels were justified because Ahmaud might have been breaking into people’s homes, but it doesn’t matter. That wasn’t proved by any means at the time of his death, and no matter what the truth is, they had no right to gun him down in the street because he was a black man on a run… It is paramount that we never stop fighting racism and injustice in the criminal system. If we don’t, the awaiting outcome is more cases like Ahmaud’s.”
Molly Davis, The Federalist

“If the McMichaels’ story doesn’t already seem ridiculous to you, just flip the races. Imagine a black guy like me tried to sell this story to a cop: ‘Well, officer, I was outside watering my tulips when this young white guy just comes running past my home in broad daylight. He matched the description of nearly every suspect in every mass shooting I’ve ever seen. Eventually, me and my boy caught him and shot him to death. In, uhh, self-defense. Just doing my part, officer. You’re welcome’…

“It’s worth noting that citizen’s arrest prerogatives in Georgia apply only to citizens who actually witness the perpetrator of a crime, at the crime scene. The law does not allow a posse of men to pursue a suspect through the streets with weapons. The McMichaels claimed that as they neared Arbery, they shouted, ‘Stop, stop… we want to talk to you!’ Wouldn’t you know, this black guy continued to try to run away from two armed white men chasing him in a damn truck.”
Elie Mystal, The Nation

“We in the United States do not live in a lawless society, and we do not live under repressive authoritarianism. Our crime rates are so far below where they were 30 years ago as to be nearly miraculously low. We have recourse to numerous legal options to maintain both our safety and our liberty under systems created by our own, duly elected representatives. Vigilantism, by taking the law into our own hands rather than relying on those legitimate systems, is usually no more than criminality wearing a red, white, and blue disguise…

“You don’t live in the real world if you think Gregory and Travis McMichael would have shot Arbery if he were white instead of black… There was no immediate threat from Arbery, no long record of police unresponsiveness, no long record of Arbery himself putting the lives or even property of the shooters or their neighbors at risk. Two armed men waited in what amounted to an armed ambush of a lone, unarmed jogger in broad daylight in the middle of a street.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“[Prosecutor] Barnhill says the men were acting under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which allows a ‘private person’ to make an arrest ‘if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge’… We have seen no evidence that the McMichaels had ‘immediate knowledge’ that Arbery had committed a felony, which is a higher standard than the ‘probable cause’ required for police to make an arrest…

“That is exactly the reason the state of Georgia should not allow private citizens to play amateur detective with guns in their hands… A typical police academy spends 40 classroom hours on use of force and defensive tactics, plus more time in hands-on drills and practice scenarios. Prospective officers also get trained on probable cause: what is enough evidence to initiate an arrest, and what is not. Even after all of that, officers sometimes use force when they shouldn’t… It is not fair to the citizens of Georgia to give them the right to play policemen but none of the training. We no longer live in the Wild West, in which law enforcement often had to be left to private citizens. Our laws should leave the 19th century and join us here in the 21st.”
Dana Mulhauser, Washington Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“The underlying assumptions of white innocence and black guilt are all part of what the philosopher Charles Mills calls the ‘racial contract.’ If the social contract is the implicit agreement among members of a society to follow the rules—for example, acting lawfully, adhering to the results of elections, and contesting the agreed-upon rules by nonviolent means—then the racial contract is a codicil rendered in invisible ink, one stating that the rules as written do not apply to nonwhite people in the same way…

The implied terms of the racial contract are visible everywhere for those willing to see them. A [black] 12-year-old with a toy gun is a dangerous threat who must be met with lethal force; [white] armed militias drawing beads on federal agents are heroes of liberty. Struggling white farmers in Iowa taking billions in federal assistance are hardworking Americans down on their luck; struggling single parents in cities using food stamps are welfare queens. Black Americans struggling in the cocaine epidemic are a ‘bio-underclass’ created by a pathological culture; white Americans struggling with opioid addiction are a national tragedy.”
Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Rashawn Ray, a sociologist at the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution, argues, “‘People who say, oh, well, these incidents don’t occur that often — well, that depends on how you look at it. Even if we’re not talking about someone being killed, we are talking about someone potentially being beaten up. We’re talking about someone being followed and accosted. We’re talking about a racial slur being yelled at someone. We’re talking about incidents that alter how people move through space’…

“‘[Black men] talk about doing things that [other] people don’t do when they run. Like wearing an alumni T-shirt, carrying their ID with them, running on well-lit, densely populated roads, waving and smiling at neighbors. Going for a run, and then someone else is coming down the sidewalk, stopping, actually running in the street to avoid that person’… Ahmaud Arbery’s death is the worst fear of many black men, who experience a level of baseline fear and persecution during routine activities like jogging in majority-white neighborhoods that few others in America can understand.”
Zack Beauchamp, Vox

“Once again, it took no less than the intolerable spectacle of a black man’s execution in public view, spread far and wide, for the state to consider — or be compelled to consider — even the possibility of consequences for those who so readily took his life. Why do we need to exhibit and share the brutal death of a black man for it to be asserted that he was murdered? Why is it still necessary that the world see a black life violently cut short for any institutional recognition that black lives should matter?…

“It was not enough for his loved ones to demand justice. Millions of people had to bear witness to the extreme footage of a lynching, and to demand action, for the state to begin to register that Arbery’s life had value.”
Natasha Lennard, The Intercept

From the Right

“The same people defending [Arbery’s] killers were also just a week ago praising the fact that General Michael Flynn received justice after a malicious FBI violated his right and pinned on him a crime he didn’t commit. Arbery was never even investigated. He wasn’t even a suspect to law enforcement, and yet it is fine for him to be dead…

“The two situations are not identical, but that is the point. The justice system was corrupted to take Flynn down, but there was a chance for him to go free. The justice system not only did not get a chance to investigate Arbery, but it would also then sweep his death under the rug to prevent an inconvenient investigation into a white man who was a part of that justice system… [The system] never gave him a chance.”
Joe Cunningham, RedState

“For those out there who are still trying to justify this shooting, you should probably give this one a pass. The fact is that we have a dead Black man who was pursued by two white guys, one of whom was probably in tight with most of the local law enforcement officials. The DA wasn’t ‘inclined’ to press charges for two months, despite having the same damning video we all watched in his hands…

“Yes, it’s true that we frequently see liberal activists crying racism and throwing around claims of excessive use of force in cases where a police shooting was probably fully justified. But this wasn’t a police shooting. It was a civilian shooting. And the identities of the people involved and the details of the events that played out over the past two months make suggestions of racist motives awfully hard to ignore. If we’re going to defend legitimate cases where lethal force is used and push back against claims of racism, we do ourselves no favors by turning a blind eye to a case like this or, worse, trying to defend the shooters.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

Some note that “While plenty of people on both sides rightly called for justice for Ahmaud Arbery for weeks… a good percentage of comments bordered on inflammatory, if not patently absurd. ‘We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!’ NBA legend LeBron James tweeted from the comfortable quarantine of his luxurious mansion while being adored by literally every man, woman, and child in America… CNN host Don Lemon said that ‘communities of color feel like we are under siege.’ Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms even tried to tie the shooting to President Trump…

Are black people being routinely gunned down in America for the ‘crime’ of being black? Hardly. Such a dire pattern would doubtless dominate the news cycle daily, as this solitary case has and will continue to do for the foreseeable future… Candace Owens nailed what the topic of discussion should be centered around right now in an America less hyper-focused on racial politics: ‘The national debate SHOULD have been about the legitimacy of citizen’s arrests in light of a tragic outcome,’ she wrote. ‘Instead, we went with BLACKS ARE LITERALLY BEING HUNTED WHEN THEY STEP OUT OF THEIR HOMES FOR NO REASON.’”
Scott Morefield, Townhall

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