May 9, 2020

Action Alert:
Ahmaud Arbery – FBI must widen its investigation


UPDATE:  in two days, 489 One Pulse for America members signed this letter, a further 109 One Pulse for America members have contacted the FBI directly, as recorded in our database, and a further 30 people approximately indicated they wished to sign, but did not supply a home town and state.  This makes a total of 628 people.

8 May 2010 – Ahmaud Arbery would have been 26 today, but he was executed by two gun-wielding white men in February.  They claim the unarmed black jogger must have been a burglary suspect – so they killed him.  Virtually nothing was done:  no arrests made, no plans to have any kind of legal action was taken.  The father and son duo, Gregory and Travis McMichael, claimed Mr Arbery somehow started it; this claim soon evaporated when a damning video showed up.  The footage seems to have led to a grand jury being convened.  As many are saying, the grand jury is being convened not because the authorities saw the video, it’s because WE saw the video.

Ahmaud Abrey ABC news
Glynn County police said on 28 April – nearly two months after the shooting – they were ‘gathering evidence’ – this excluded arresting and questioning the men.

It is not hard to imagine what would have happened instead if the jogger was white and the two shooters were black.

The tragic story also destroys some myths used by the pro-gun NRA and other factions.  They would have you believe that ‘good guys with guns’ need weapons to stay safe, and the people who get guns and have permits are all trained, professional, ‘good guys’.  It is likely the men who killed Mr Arbery had the correct registrations and permits (as loose as Georgia’s laws are):  the NRA would have you believe that gun-owners like them are law-abiding people who are very responsible.  These myths never held water and don’t hold any water going forward.   If the men in the truck had mobile phones and no guns, they could have called the police to report siting a possible suspect (how they think they recognized Mr Arbery needs to be examined, as does whether or not they placed any such call or just killed – it looks like they just killed).  It’s likely the police would have arrested Mr Arbery unlike their failure to arrest those who killed him.  Still, he would be alive.

Aside from the glaringly-obvious fact the public is supposed to telephone police if they think they see a possible suspect and not shoot the person dead, the shocking behavior, inaction, and procedural errors on the part of the state demand investigation.  It certainly looks like racism, conspiracy, and ignorance were why no one was arrested at the time.  The McMichaels enjoyed months of freedom, and had a long opportunity to work on their stories, tamper with evidence, while enjoying their lives while Mr Arbery was dead and his family mourned.

ACTION:

We will send the following open letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, copying in various other bodies.  After careful deliberation, looking at the behavior of Georgia’s Governor down to the law enforcement agencies involved here, it is pointless to ask these people to investigate their own serious problems.

Please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation through one of the channels below and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:

 

TO: The Federal Bureau of Investigation

CC:  S Lee Merritt (attorney for Ahmaud Arbery’s family), ACLU, Black Lives Matter, Vic Reynolds – Georgia Bureau of Investigation, The Supreme Court of Georgia, Derrick Johnson – president of the NAACP

Sirs,

Is Georgia institutionally racist?  We believe the evidence speaks for itself and the answer sadly is ‘yes, definitely’.  

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery is one of the most outrageous cases that lead to that conclusion; sadly, it is not unique in Georgia’s history.  We are aware the FBI is investigating this case.  We write to ask the FBI to widen its scope and investigate more broadly how racism operates within the State of Georgia’s law enforcement agencies and governor’s office.  

How can the execution of an unarmed jogger who is black by two white men not even lead to an immediate arrest?  Institutionalized, entrenched racism seems to be the answer to that question, and the entire state needs to be part of an investigation by an independent external body.  We know the FBI prioritizes hate crime, and as we have no confidence in Georgia to investigate its own corruption, we call upon the FBI to act.

We write to demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery, his family, friends and community.   We are disgusted that months elapsed with no arrests, and we are only too aware of the opportunities the suspects have had to synchronize their stories, alter or destroy evidence, and/or influence the outcome of legal action.  We will be watching intently, and we expect to see justice done and expect long custodial sentences for anyone found guilty of executing an unarmed person, especially as race has clearly played a part throughout this situation.  We also feel such an outcome is not likely unless the investigation we ask for is held.

We want to see Georgia implement hate crime legislation; it is one of the few states that do not have any such provisions.  We demand Georgia upholds Federal hate crime legislation.  USA Today quotes Georgia Bureau of Investigations Director Vic Reynolds as saying:  “There’s no hate crime (law) in Georgia.”  I would remind Mr Reynolds, one of the parties on copy of this letter,  and the GBI that there are federal hate crime laws and these should be applied here, eg The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.  No stone, no piece of relevant legislation can be ignored in this case.

S Lee Merritt, attorney for the deceased’s family, said and we agree: “Prosecutors will need a grand jury in order to formally indict these men, but that has nothing to do with actually going out and arresting the men seen on camera murdering a 25-year-old unarmed black man…  The prosecutors actually have the option, if they so choose to, to directly indictment [sic] and skip the entire grand jury process,” he added. “It’s something that happens all the time in our legal system, and this would certainly be an appropriate moment.”  We demand an explanation as to how the grand jury route was chosen, who was involved, and this too should be part of the broader, essential investigation.

 It speaks volumes that shooter Gregory McMichaels is a retired Glynn County police officer and investigator with Brunswick’s district attorney’s office.  We demand a re-examination of every case he was involved in, however long that may take.  If this retired ‘professional’ thinks he is at liberty to execute suspects, then the public needs to know what other wrongs he may have committed, and whether they were racially-motivated. 

We need to find out what hate groups the McMichael may be involved in:  are they Klan members, neo-Nazis, far-right violence advocates?  We demand that no one involved in a hate group be permitted to work in any aspect of law enforcement or indeed the entire public sector.

We write as members of gun law reform group One Pulse for America, and normally we would write to a state governor to appeal for intervention in such a situation.  However, we have seen photos of Governor Kemp posing happily with a white man wearing an anti-Islam t-shirt.  We are aware of black community leaders’ feelings about Mr Kemp re-opening the state during Covid19 situation, and how this is very likely to particularly harm black citizens.  Kemp is tied to voter suppression, and is linked to cancelling 1.4 million voter registrations.  Kemp is also an endorsed supporter of the discredited NRA, linked forever with Russian agents, Russian money and Russian election tampering.  We don’t want to appeal for his help:  we want to appeal for your investigation to examine him too.

Georgia’s gun laws are some of the loosest in the country; it is no wonder its shooting and gun death statistics are so appalling https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/congress/ga .

More lives will be lost, more injustices done and an independent, sweeping, thorough investigation into racism in Georgia’s law enforcement system must be conducted to try to correct this unacceptable status quo.  We demand this investigation be convened as soon as possible.  We also demand full transparency on the murder of Mr Arbery and want everyone culpable in mismanagement of the case investigated too.

To Mr Arbery’s family, friends, community we send our condolences, and One Pulse for America will be happy to take actions to demonstrate our support alongside you.  Please let us know how to help.

We want the FBI to reply to our letter.  We invite those on copy, whether they are  part of the problem or the community organizations we are reaching out to, to send us their thoughts too.  We will be only too happy to take other relevant actions to fight against Georgia’s out-of-control gun culture and racism.

  1.  If you want your name on the letter, then please add your name, hometown and state on the post.
  2. If you want to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation on your own, use the text above, customizing as you wish and send to:

Phone:  (202) 324-3000

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/FBI/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/FBI 

 

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110 people have taken this action