Proverbs 21: 15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
Like an eagle landing on a high rock among tall cliffs and mountains, so has justice landed in southern Georgia with the conviction and verdict of three white men after the killing of a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery. Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52, testified they stopped the young black man because they were conducting a citizen's arrest. However as pointed out in the trial and shown on the videos, there was no reason to arrest him. Ahmaud had no weapon, he had not stolen anything, he was simply running for exercise in his neighborhood. This case of Ahmaud Arbury will be recorded in the history books portraying lady justice as an eagle spreading her wings and finally landing on the rock called "justice for all".
I must admit it has been difficult and disheartening to see so many cases go to trial over the years, across our country where white men get acquitted for killing black and brown men. Especially when the victims are innocent of a crime. While black and brown men continue to be convicted of crimes they did not commit, but due to lack of funds have no recourse for a fair and just trial.
Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, bought in from a small liberal town, was asked to take this case. The decision to take this case was probably the best decision she made in her career. I am grateful for the skill set she brought to the table. Did you know that she tried to get more people of color to be jurors? She also stuck to the details of the case without using a lot of racial accusations until the end near the final hours of the trial.
Where did citizen's arrest laws come from?
According to NPR,
by Ashish Valentine 10-26-2021
These laws are old.
Cornell University criminal law expert Joseph Margulies says they date back to before the founding of the United States, and allowed colonial citizens to detain someone they had seen commit a crime.
They were designed for an environment in which police were not widely present, Margulies said.
Georgia, along with other states principally in the South, expanded those laws to allow citizens to arrest someone they reasonably suspected of trying to escape from a felony.
We'll come back to those words: "Reasonably suspected."
Georgia's law dated back to 1863, and "was basically a catching-fleeing-slave law," according to Margulies.
In Georgia, the law states that a private person may arrest someone if a crime is committed in his presence or “within his immediate knowledge.”
But if it is a felony, the citizen can stop someone from escaping if the citizen has “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
In the killing of Mr. Arbery, someone called 911 beforehand to say that a man was inside a house under construction. If that man was Mr. Arbery, and he was there without permission but stole nothing, then he could have been charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor, said Lawrence J. Zimmerman, the president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. That means, Mr. Zimmerman said, the men who went after him would not have been authorized to give chase,
force can only be used to prevent a violent felony, Mr. Zimmerman said, adding, “What is not lawful is, you can’t detain somebody and then use force.”
Wasn't the law repealed in Georgia?
The law was repealed after Arbery was killed.
After his death, and a nationwide racial justice reckoning, Georgia repealed the law this year.
Linda Dunikoski, attorney for the Arbery case said these two things that really got my attention and the attention of many. Mr. Arbery was killed because he was Black. She said that the case wasn’t about whether the men were “good or bad people.” Rather, she said, it was “about holding people accountable and responsible for their actions.”