It was February 23, 2020, when 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was confronted and brutally gunned down in Brunswick, Georgia. One year and eight months after his death, the jury selection for the trial against the three men who are accused of killing the young black man has already started.
Despite making headway, a judge clarified that the process might be lengthy and time-consuming. He also shared that it might take more than two weeks before the jury selection is finalized as duty notices have been sent out to 1,000 individuals in Glynn County. Nevertheless, the victim’s mother remains hopeful that the right people will be selected.
Due to the stringent COVID-19 restrictions imposed last year, the trial was put on hold. One of the lead prosecutors who previously handled the case pushed for the trial to be held in front of a grand jury, which was only possible after restrictions were eased starting June of this year.
The case has captured the interest of the public, with many considering Ahmaud Arbery’s death as a racially charged transgression. It was said that the victim, who was once a football player and is a highly athletic individual, frequently exercises in the area. He was out for an afternoon jog on the day the suspects pursued him.
In a statement made to police, one of the suspects, Gregory McMichael, claimed that the victim looks like the suspect of a series of break-ins around the neighborhood. This is why he, together with his son, Travis McMichael, took a pistol, hopped on their pickup truck, and went after the young man.
A third suspect, William Bryan, was also arrested after he was identified as the person who captured a cellphone video of the incident. The said video had surfaced in May 2020 and quickly went viral on the internet.
This sparked outrage, especially within the Black community. People quickly mobilized and showed their solidarity for the young man in the form of Black Lives Matters marches and other forms of protest.
Until now, all three suspects maintained their not-guilty plea. The McMichael’s insist that they were only performing a citizen’s arrest and are acting in self-defense. On the other hand, William Bryan denies conspiring with the other suspects.
The upcoming trial is shaping up to be a long and arduous court battle as it tackles several contentious issues such as racism and the controversial citizen’s arrest law in the state of Georgia.
The outcome of this noteworthy case will undoubtedly set a precedent for the issues mentioned above. For this reason, many people are keeping close tabs on the development of the trial.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family hopes that justice will be served and that their beloved son will leave a lasting legacy in the fight against racism. Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said in an interview, “This is 2021, and it’s time for a change. We need to be treated equally and get fair justice as human beings because we’ve been treated wrong so long.”