One year ago today Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in a quiet neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, when he was chased, cornered, and murdered by three white men. It would take 74 days and the public release of video evidence for Ahmaud’s killers to be arrested and indicted. All three defendants – Gregory and Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan — pled not guilty and are awaiting trial.
Ahmaud’s murder was the catalyst for the bipartisan passage of new hate crimes legislation in Georgia (HB 426). The Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney responsible for handling the case, Jackie Johnson, was ousted in the November election thanks to a successfully organized write-in campaign. More updates here and here.
If you want to learn more about the circumstances of Ahmaud’s death, and explore how the men who killed him came so close to escaping scrutiny, I recommend season three of the podcast Buried Truths. Emory professor and journalist Hank Klibanoff provides narrative, investigative, and historical context for the killing and its delayed prosecution. Along with his students in the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project, Klibanoff explores the family roots of Ahmaud and the men who pursued him. The podcast reflects on the way that Georgia of 2020 troublingly reflects the Georgia of 70 years ago. “This is the story of the long arc of injustice in the American South — and of the persistence that brought worldwide attention to coastal Georgia.” Find Buried Truths here, or wherever you get your podcasts.