Well, we finally got some justice. The Ahmaud Arbery verdict was right on! Whatever sentencing is handed down will be justice served.
Lots of support in the country for that jury’s decisions. Many in this nation watched everything unfold in that little courtroom. They and the jury were forced to hear the outrageous racism spewed by the defense. Just plain racism on display for all to see and hear.
But, back to the verdict. In fact, back to the charging of all three of the guilty. Had it not been for someone leaking a video of the murder in the alley, there would have been no trial. Nothing. Nada.
The prosecutor, at the time, had decided no charges were warranted in the killing. This was just three fine citizens catching and killing a suspected neighborhood burglar. Case closed.
That determiner of “justice” was a lady named Jacqueline Lee Johnson. She has since been removed from office and is now facing criminal charges of her own. In every sense of the word “justice,” she deserves whatever fate is determined in another courtroom.
The fine and huge point in this drama is that, if someone had not made public that short, but painful video, there would have been no arrests - no charges - no action! Ms. Johnson would still be the attorney for that district. The three men would not have had their lives disrupted. There would have been no trial. And Ahmaud Arbery would have been just another Black man murdered in an alley by three “good citizens.”
The difference between this and so many other Black killings in this country was simply the digital capture of a murder in progress. A video. Incontrovertible evidence of the crime. The same in the police murder of George Floyd. A camera at the scene capturing a crime in progress.
If I were a Black man, I’d have every reason to ask society “If a cop kills me by kneeling on my neck or if vigilantes gun me down in my neighborhood, will there have to be a video of it to get me justice?”
How many Black men have been killed in this country without charges being brought - without someone arrested and convicted - because there was no video of their deaths? Have we become so inured to the deaths of fellow humans that we must have pictures - video of their demise - to make a criminal case?
Left to the “thinking” of one former federal attorney, the answer is “yes.”
We citizens - and especially Black men - expect more of our justice system. We expect the full and complete “services” available to assure a thorough examination of the facts and - if warranted - action in accordance with the law. That’s our expectation. That’s our right!
Some years ago, someone had the bright idea of putting cameras on cops for just the reason for the Arbery case. Video. Digital pictures of what the cops were doing, what they were seeing.
Great! Except now, we’re hearing “left it in the squad car,” “battery was out because I forgot to charge it,”“I forgot to wear it” or some other lame excuse. You almost have to have a videographer “ride-along” to make a case.
There’s absolutely no reason why the Arbery case got to a courtroom other than the pictures. The video someone “leaked.” What if there were no “leak?” What if the video never surfaced? Would there have been any justice at all for an innocent man’s death? The answer - if Ms. Johnson’s decision was not challenged - would be “No.”
Criminal cases initiated by pictures. Justice by digital photography.
(Note: This article previously said the prosecutor involved was federal; it has been corrected to note that she was a state district attorney.)