The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus is urging due diligence in the state's investigation of the Feb. 23 shooting of a 25-year-old black man in Satilla Shores in southern Glynn County.
Chaired by state Rep. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain, the statement is in response to the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot 2 1/2 months ago while jogging by two men who are white.
“We are saddened and angry about this wanton display of violence against an innocent man whose only crime was jogging while black," Bennett said in the statement. "In 2020, our state and our country has yet to reconcile with the vestiges of racism. At a time when we are uniting to fight against a global pandemic, another disease rears its head to again take an innocent life. First, our condolences go out to the family of the innocent victim, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, whose rights as an American to exercise were violently taken from him."
Greg McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer and retired investigator with the district attorney's office in Brunswick, and his adult son, Travis McMichael, a former Coast Guardsman, chased Arbery down in a pickup truck. Travis McMichael, who was driving, jumped out of the truck with a shotgun and confronted Arbery. The two hand wrestled over possession of the shotgun when it went off, killing Arbery. Three shots can be heard on a recently released video of the incident.
The McMichaels told police they wanted to question Arbery about burglaries in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.
“The two assailants need to be in jail," the caucus statement continues. "Every day they walk as free individuals is an insult to the Arbery family and all who believe in justice. For the time they have walked free without incrimination and the pursuit of justice is a criminal act by those who have allowed the injustice of covering up this crime that is punishable by law.
“We call on federal and state officials to use all resources available to investigate this heinous act. We call on the district attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit to act with a sense of urgency. We call on our colleagues in the State Senate, when the legislature reconvenes on June 11, to take up House Bill 426, which is bipartisan hate crimes legislation currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing. Most of all, we call on all Georgians to renounce this act of unwarranted, unjustified violence. Ahmaud Arbery deserves justice.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the shooting at the request of Tom Durden, a district attorney in Hinesville, which is in the Atlantic Judicial Circuit. Durden said he will impanel a grand jury to consider charges against the McMichaels when allowed to do so under a COVID-19 induced judicial emergency order, which suspends court activities until June.