JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Alicia Keys, Yo Gotti, Roc Nation’s philanthropic arm Team Roc and civil rights lawyers Lee Merritt and Benjamin L. Crump have signed an open letter addressed to Georgia state officials, in the wake of the tragic death of 25-year-old African American man, Ahmaud Arbery. The letter was published on Sunday (May 10) in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and calls for a “fair trial” for Gregory and Travis McMichael, who were arrested and charged with murder and assault on Thursday (May 7).
“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,” the letter begins. “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.”
“By now, we’ve all seen the crime’s disturbing video, so the facts here are not in doubt: He was unarmed and innocent and the victim of a hate crime. Which is why we call upon you today, as official leaders of the Great State of Georgia, and with the entire world watching, to ensure that a fair trial is conducted, as that can only lead to the appropriate felony convictions of both McMichaels,” it continues.
The letter is addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Christopher Carr and District Attorney Tom Durden. Along with ensuring that the McMichaels receive a “fair trial,” the letter also asks that William Bryan — the man who filmed the incident — be charged as an accomplice to the crime. Furthermore, the letters implores that District Attorney Durden be removed from the case, citing a “conflict of interest,” as Gregory McMichael is a former police officer.
“As a society we can no longer pretend that the racial inequalities, which exist in every facet for our lives, don’t invariably lead down the path to poverty, violence and death. To even think about breaking this cycle we need you to protect the process and preserve the fairness of the trial,” the letter reads. “And if you take those necessary actions, you will send a message to the people that want to drag Georgia back to a time when African-Americans were killed merely for voting: hate and fear will lose.”
“Ahmaud was a loving son, a brother and a positive role model in the community,” the letter concludes. “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.”
Read the full letter, singed by JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Team Roc and others, below.