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Georgia

January 8, 2022

Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Sentenced to Life in Prison

In Georgia, all three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison.

Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, to life in prison without parole. William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

“I’ve read somewhere, and I don’t remember where it was, that at a minimum, Ahmaud Arbery’s death should force us to consider expanding our definition of what a neighbor may be and how we treat them. I argue that maybe a neighbor is more than the people who just own property around your house. I believe that assuming the worst in others we show our worst character,” Walmsley said before the sentencing.

Walmsley said the three men “hunted down and shot” Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man running in a Georgie neighborhood in 2020.

“In my opinion, Greg McMichael very early on in this tried to establish a narrative. He made comments like ‘Ahmaud Arbery was trapped like a rat,’ ‘stop or I’ll blow your — and I won’t repeat it again — head off.’ Effectively admitted that he wasn’t sure what Ahmaud Arbery had done wrong,” Walmsley said.

“Travis McMichael claims he was in shock, but it’s interesting because he talks about his concern for his child and his own well-being. Part of this was while the victim was actually laying there in the street,” the judge said.

“Mr. Bryan, he joined in, after calling out to the McMichaels ‘you all got him,’ claimed he didn’t know what was going on. But obviously wanted to know if this individual who was running through the neighborhood who he didn’t know had been caught in some way,” the judge continued.

He said these quotes give context to the video of the killing presented in court during the trial.

“In this case, I think many people are seeking closure. The mother, the father, the community, and maybe even parts of the nation, but closure is hard to define and is a granular concept. It’s seen differently by all depending on their perspective and the prism of your lives,” Walmsley said.

“Instead of closure, maybe it would be best to see today’s proceeding as an exercise in accountability. We are all accountable for our own actions. Today demonstrates that everybody is accountable to the rule of law. Taking the law into your own hands is a dangerous endeavor,” he added.


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Three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in prison

November 25, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery Trial: Jury Reaches Verdict [Video]

All three men charged with the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery have been found guilty of murder.

A jury convicted Greg McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, after roughly 10 hours of deliberations. Each charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison, though it is up to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley if that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to chase Arbery, who was black, after seeing him running in their neighborhood in Feb. 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded a cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery. The case garnered national attention about the footage leaked online in April 2020.

The defense argued that the McMichaels were attempting to apprehend Arbery under a legal citizen’s arrest under a now-defunct Georgia law after they spotted him running from a nearby home under construction. That citizen’s arrest law was repealed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) earlier this year.

Prosecutors argued that the McMichaels didn’t have any evidence that Arbery had committed any crimes.

Though prosecutors didn’t argue that the killing was racially motivated, federal authorities have charged the men, who are white, with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Arbery because of his ethnicity. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

During deliberations on Wednesday morning, the jurors asked to view two versions of the video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times each. They also reviewed the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck approximately 30 seconds before the fatal shooting. The Associated Press described the jury as “disproportionately white.”

Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, spoke shortly after the verdict, thanking his son’s mother, the activists, and attorneys who helped bring attention to his son’s case.

“God put us all together to make this happen,” Arbery said. “We conquered that lynch mob. We got that lynch mob.”

“We don’t want to see nobody go through this,” he added. “Let’s keep fighting and making this world a better place for all human beings.”

“All human beings need to be treated equally,” Arbery said.

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All 3 men charged in Arbery’s death convicted of murder

November 24, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery Trial: Jury Begins Deliberations

The 12-person jury started its deliberations on Tuesday over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It must determine the fate of three men facing murder and other charges stemming from the fatal shooting of the 25-year-old last year.

Deliberations began following 10 days of testimony from eyewitnesses, including police officers, neighbors, and one of the defendants.

Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan have all pleaded not guilty to one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one criminal attempt to commit a felony. If convicted, the men face life in prison.

On Feb. 23, 2020, the McMichaels spotted Arbery leaving a nearby house that was under construction. The McMichaels, both armed, started chasing Arbery from a pickup truck while he was on foot. Bryan, who lived in the area, joined the chase soon after in his own truck. Bryan recorded a video of what would be Arbery’s final moments.

As Arbery ran down the street with the trucks closing in on him, he charged at Travis McMichael. McMichael shot Arbery three times as the 25-year-old tried to grab his shotgun, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The incident garnered national attention after Bryan’s video footage leaked in May 2020.

The defense argued that the McMichaels were acting on Georgia’s now-defunct citizen’s arrest law, which allowed them to detain Arbery because they had a suspicion he’d committed a crime. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) repealed the law in May.

Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough, has tried to isolate himself from the case, arguing that his client was unaware a crime was occurring when he joined the chase and started recording, according to The New York Times. Gough has also said Bryan didn’t cause any harm to Arbery.

However, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski has argued that the defendants didn’t have grounds to follow Arbery because there wasn’t any evidence he’d committed a crime. Dunikoski said the three defendants decided to attack Arbery “because he was a Black man running down their street.”

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Arbery case goes to jury

November 14, 2021

Defense lawyer in Arbery case makes ‘insulting’ remark about black pastors

A defense attorney representing one of the men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery last year became the subject of criticism by saying he didn’t want “black pastors” to attend the court proceedings. 

Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley that he was concerned about Rev. Al Sharpton’s presence in the courtroom the previous day, saying it could’ve been an attempt to intimidate the predominantly white jury.

“Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have,” Gough said. “And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more black pastors coming in here … sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jurors in this case.”

Sharpton was sat with the victim’s family in the courtroom at the time of Gough’s comments. Gough told the judge he didn’t realize Sharpton had been there until after the court had adjourned for the day.

“You weren’t even aware of it until later?” Walmsley said. “I’m not sure what we’re doing.”

Sharpton issued a statement, saying Gough’s remarks showed “arrogant insensitivity.”

“I respect the defense attorney doing his job,” Sharpton said, “but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”

Bryan, along with father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, is charged with murder in Arbery’s Feb. 23, 2020, killing. Arbery, 25, was chased and fatally shot after the defendants spotted him running in their neighborhood.

Source:

A defense lawyer in Arbery’s killing says he doesn’t want Black pastors in court

October 19, 2021

Black students suspended for planning protest against Confederate flag at school

White students at a Georgia high school waved a Confederate flag and spouted racial slurs. When the school decided against reprimanding the students, a group of black students planned a protest.

The administrators of Coosa High School in Rome, Georgia, then suspended the black students for planning a protest.

“The administration is aware of tomorrow’s planned protest,” the administrator said over the intercom ahead of the planned demonstration. “Police will be present here at school and if students insist on encouraging this kind of activity they will be disciplined for encouraging unrest.”

According to CBS, two white students who participated in the protest did not receive a suspension, despite claiming to be as disruptive as the black students.

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After white students displayed Confederate flag at school, Black students suspended for planning protest

October 16, 2021

Georgia election workers fired for tampering with voter forms

In George, two election workers in the state’s most populous county lost their jobs for allegedly shredding voter applications.

Fulton County found that two employees may have erroneously checked out batches of applications for processing but shredded a portion of them instead. Other employees reported the behavior to their supervisor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said 300 election-related applications were destroyed within the past two weeks.

“After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” Raffensperger said.

“The Department of Justice needs to take a long look at what Fulton County is doing and how their leadership disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance. The voters of Georgia are sick of Fulton County’s failures,” he added.

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Georgia election workers fired, accused of shredding voting applications

September 20, 2021

Restaurant’s entire staff quits, leaves note in window

The entire staff at a Barberitos in Macon, Georgia, quit at once, leaving customers a note explaining their reasoning on the restaurant’s front entrance.

“Store is closed. Whole staff as quit do to under pay an lack of appreciation. We have worked 7 days a week for the past month and barely any time off. We are so sorry and love you all! old Barbs family, out,” the note read.

WGXA, a local station, reported signs advertising open positions, and temporary hours replaced the resignation letter.

A spokesperson told the outlet that the allegations of the seven-day work weeks were untrue.

“Unfortunately, a local restaurateur uniformly hired away six of our employees at the same time,” the spokesperson said.

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, service industry employment dropped by around 42,000 workers in August.

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Entire staff of restaurant quits, posts sign in window explaining why

September 15, 2021

DOJ opens investigation into Georgia prisons over civil rights violations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday the launch of an investigation into Georgia prisons over alleged civil rights violations after 26 inmates were killed in state facilities last year.

The focus of the probe is “harm to prisoners resulting from prisoner-on-prisoner violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke during a virtual press conference.

“We are also investigating sexual abuse of gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners by prisoners and staff,” Clarke said.

Clarke said that the DOJ’s investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). If the Attorney General finds reasonable cause, CRIPA allows them to take civil action against prisons for violation of the constitutional rights of prisoners.

“Violent assault is not a legal or morally acceptable part of a lawful prison sentence,” said David Estes, Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

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DOJ launches investigation into Georgia prisons over alleged civil rights violations

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