A little-known case of racial profiling near the coastal town of Brunswick, Ga. is starting to receive some light after details of the shooting death of a Black man at the hands of white men come to light. Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood this past February when a man and his son followed Arbery before reportedly shooting him dead.
The New York Times profiled the case, revealing that Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, performed duties consistent with a citizen’s arrest in approaching Arbery, 25, who they say resembled a suspect in a string of robberies in the Satilla Shores area. Brunswick, according to demographic reports, is a predominately-Black town of over 15,000 residents.
The Times was able to obtain documents that revealed a prosecutor taking command of the shooting case told police that the McMicheals approached Arbery under the state’s citizen’s arrest statute and acted in self-defense after a reported struggle between the younger son and the shooting victim. Making this an even more curious matter, the elder McMichael is a former investigator that worked in the district attorney’s office.
George Barnhill, the prosecutor in question, recused himself from the matter in April once the family of the victim cited a conflict of interest. A new prosecutor has been assigned and will pore over the evidence to determine if this case will go to a grand jury.
This hasn’t provided much in the way of comfort for Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, who wanted to stage a protest in the area where her son was killed but is unable to do so due to restrictions on travel in the state due to the novel coronavirus spread and COVID-19. Rev. John Perry II, who heads the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP, said that the incident was “troubling” and that attempts to get attention on the incident are muted due to the pandemic and the fact the crime happened in the Deep South.
A Facebook page has been erected in Arbery’s memory and is a rallying point for activists and others who wish to support the family and bring his killers to justice. Local outlet The Brunswick News dug deeper into the story, unnecessarily bringing up Arbery’s past charges back when he was 19 years of age and sharing details of the fateful encounter.
Not surprisingly, neither of the McMicheals is providing much in the way of information to news outlets and there hasn’t been a timeline announced as to if an investigation will resume.