Social media has been in an uproar since a video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death surfaced online and has since called for immediate justice from the state of Georgia.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot on Feb. 23 while jogging through a neighborhood by Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, who chased him down before killing him. McMichael and his son were only arrested and charged for the murder just last week, USA Today reports.
The video caused such a stir online that Roc Nation’s philanthropic arm Team Roc and civil rights lawyers S. Lee Merritt, Esq. and Benjamin L. Crump, Esq. signed an open letter calling for justice from Georgia state officials.
Open letter to Georgia elected officials appearing in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution today, calling for justice to be served in the case of Ahmaud Arbery's murder. Convict his killers and show the world that hate and fear will lose. #JusticeforAhmaud #iRunWithMaud pic.twitter.com/w0nuXthGEc
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) May 10, 2020
The letter begins stating:
“The world is now familiar with the story of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African-American man who, while out jogging in Brunswick, Glynn County, GA, was hunted down and shot to death by two white men, Gregory and Travis McMichael.
Their arrest yesterday on charges of murder and aggravated assault — more than two months after Ahmaud’s death — was a positive first step on the long road toward justice. But it only strengthens our resolve to see that justice is eventually served.”
The letter went on to say:
“Ahmaud was a loving son, a brother and a positive role model in the community,” the letter reads. “He was a human being. He was also African-American which, sadly, means that he was a target. Still. And, on this Mother’s Day—just two days after what would have been Ahmaud’s 26th birthday—we simply cannot and will not stand for another black mother who must spend the day mourning the loss of her black son because of the color of his skin.”
As stated in the open letter, it took two months and a viral video before Georgia state officials took action in prosecuting Arbery’s murderers.
Since the national outcry surrounding Arbery’s death, Attorney General Chris Carr has taken precautions to appoint the proper counsel to handle Arbery’s death in court.
The New York Times reported that Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes, the first African-American to serve as district attorney, was recently named the fourth prosecutor assigned to lead Arbery’s case.
Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE
— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
Holmes was appointed to this case, which has bounced to several different district attorneys and law enforcement agencies, as a result of pressure from the public and Arbery’s family to ensure the case was handled properly.
“The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers,” said Carr in a statement, “and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers.”
Holmes works for Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia where she is one of only seven Black district attorneys in the state.
Among those representing Arbery’s family in the case are Black civil rights attorneys L. Chris Stewart, Esq., who handled the Walter Scott case; S. Lee Merritt, Esq. who brought attention to the death of Jordan Edwards; and Benjamin L. Crump, Esq. who helped tell the world about Trayvon Martin.
USA Today reported that attorneys Merritt and Stewart said in a joint statement that they requested a new district attorney be put on the Arbery case because the “south Georgia prosecutorial community was tainted by the delay in action prior to the video being released.”
Stewart’s team of lawyers went viral over the weekend for being the Black law firm who was hired to help fight for justice for this case.
Although it’s sad that it took social media and nationwide objections to move the needle in this case, public pressure is making sure the right people are put in a position to get Arbery the justice he and his family deserve.