The newly released footage resembles a scene from the 19th century, when sadly, it’s 2020: a pair of white men on a white pickup truck harassing a black jogger on a deserted Georgia road, a confrontation that proves fatal to Ahmaud Arbery, who happens to be black.
Unless authorities have missed some unknown X-factor, and that seems highly unlikely, the killing of the 25-year-old Arbery harks back to some of America’s oldest and ugliest racial traditions.
In the footage, Arbery is seen trying to avoid the truck as he jogs, veering to the left, only to have one member of the white duo, Travis McMichael, stop him, shotgun in hand. A struggle ensues when Arbery veers right. Shots ring out, apparently fired from a handgun by McMichael’s father, Greg, standing in the bed of the pickup.
Arbery’s killers initially “told cops they thought he was a burglar,” The Post reported. But as a sleuthing blogger at HotAir.com pointed out, by his own account, captured in a police report, “McMichael hadn’t seen Arbery commit any crime and yet [was] attempting to cut him off in the middle of the road.”
The father-son pair also claimed they “pulled up beside” Arbery, when, in fact, the video shows the McMichaels waiting for him as if in an ambush.
Under Georgia law, “a private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
And it’s true that a neighbor on the block had called in a report to 911 of an African-American man inside a house that was under construction. But the McMichaels didn’t have “immediate knowledge” that that was Arbery. And even if Arbery had visited the construction site, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he was burglarizing it — nor that he was responsible for the other burglaries that had recently taken place in the neighborhood.
Nor could the McMichaels avail themselves of Georgia’s “stand-your-ground” law, since, judging by the footage, it was the two of them who assailed an unarmed Arbery for no good reason — not the other way around.
As the HotAir.com blogger ably summarized, “there’s no reason why the McMichaels should have confronted Arbery, even if he [were] guilty of everything they suspect him of. They’re not cops. They didn’t personally witness him commit any crime. The risk that they would misidentify an innocent man as a criminal was perfectly foreseeable.”
Sheer stupidity could have been a factor, sure, but after so many such cases on the same pattern going back, well, centuries, black Americans might be excused for blaming motives more invidious. Here’s hoping the grand-jury system does justly by Ahmaud Arbery and his family.
Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor.
Source: Read Full Article