11 May 2020
TO: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
CC: S Lee Merritt (attorney for Ahmaud Arbery’s family), American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, Vic Reynolds – Georgia Bureau of Investigation, The Supreme Court of Georgia, Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP
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 unlikely 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…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 McMichael 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 McMichaels 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 National Rifle Association, linked forever with Russian agents, Russian money and Russian tampering in our 2016 elections. 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 . This must be challenged.
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.
To Mr Arbery’s family, friends, and 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 respond 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. We will be only too happy to take other relevant actions to fight against Georgia’s out-of-control gun culture and racism.
The One Pulse for America team www.onepulseforamerica.com
And signed by c 630
One Pulse for America members (list available to addressee on request)