/  12.02.2021

Ahmaud Arbery is a man the world will recognize alongside tragedy, the subsequent signing of a Georgia-based repeal of the citizen’s arrest law, and accountability marks. Still, his life was more than a controversial trial or its conclusion. Arbery arguably altered the future course of action of those who prefer antiquated Southern heritage.

Before reviewing the intersections of perspectives, it may serve the collective best to recall events from the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2020. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia before three white men pursued him in pick-up trucks. The men who illegally trailed Arbery through a suburban community were Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52. The killers told law enforcement they believed Arbery was responsible for the theft of a neighbor’s home, which was under construction, before fatally shooting him. No evidence was obtained by authorities to support the trio’s given statement. 

Despite the data or lack thereof, Jackie Johnson, the former district attorney of Glynn County, held cops from detaining Arbery’s murderers until 74 days following his assassination. Footage recorded by Bryan became widespread. It showed Travis, and his 3 shotgun pulls before Arbery’s bloody collapse. Supporting the mentioned bar on what later shifted into three arrests is one theory. 

Some media speculated that the police delay possibly occurred due to a law authored in 1863, during the Civil War era. Per Vox, “Georgia’s outdated and dangerous citizen’s arrest law — one that was created in an era of slavery and encouraged citizens to act on their worst biases — has since been [partially] repealed. The law was replaced with a bill that limits who can detain citizens and when (business owners and workers who witness someone shoplifting or dining and dashing, for example).”

The claim: Is it possible for Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers to overturn Gov. Kemp’s decision to partially repeal Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law in the future?

Our findings: False. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures’ order protocol, “… constitutional limits on state authority and any guaranteed rights remain in full effect…” The men may encourage their past legal teams to seek loopholes, but judicial progress is highly improbable

As The New York Times advised, “[Citizen’s arrest law] allowed residents to arrest each other if they had reasonable suspicion that someone had committed a felony and the police were not present.” Moreover, the law traditionally empowered Southern men resisting Reconstruction. National Geographic cited the historical period as when: “… the now reunified United States ended slavery and gave Black Americans citizenship and voting rights. But once Reconstruction ended in 1877, white Southerners hastened to restore what they saw as their rightful place at the top of a racially segregated social order.” This invigorates the question of whether or not political figures see a continued pattern? 

The practice was legally upheld until earlier this year when Gov. Brian Kemp connected with Arbery’s sister, Jasmine Arbery; his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones; and a bipartisan group of Georgia’s lawmakers. In the aftermath, a new measure was introduced. Georgia’s Legislative Navigator website documents House Bill 479, which Gov. Kemp signed May 10, as follows: 

HB 479

Criminal procedure; revise certain arrest powers; provisions

Current Status: House Date Signed by Governor

Official Summary: A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Title 17 of the O.C.G.A. [The Official Code of Georgia Annotated], relating to criminal procedure, so as to revise certain arrest powers; to provide for arrests by a law enforcement officer outside of the jurisdiction of his or her employing law enforcement agency under certain circumstances; to revise the grounds for arrest by a private person; to repeal in its entirety…

Simplifying the archives, Joe Margulies, an attorney and professor of law and government at Cornell Law School, had thoughts for the outlet acknowledged earlier on how the previous order came to be:

“It was a slave-catching law for slaves that attempted to flee… it gave citizens the power to grab them. [The law] derives from a racist past.” 

Some conservatives have been vocal about change being implemented from the Georgia Capitol. Other liberal leaders echo sentiments comparable to James Baldwin’s famed quote, “How much time do you want for your progress?” No matter what party an individual identifies with, it is helpful to try and understand different outlooks on what it took to achieve this year’s headway. In contrast, news onlookers might start to question what behaviors separate the three men driving near Arbery with a Confederate flag on his license plate from the privileged men who hoisted banners 157 years prior. 

As REVOLT previously noted, “[His] attorneys filed a motion to ban a photo of his white Ford truck, which includes a license plate that has a Confederate flag emblem on it…” Why was Travis uncomfortable with his selected symbolism being shown in court? Arbery did not threaten the men charged for his murder. Upon body camera footage of Gregory and Bryan standing over the deceased man spreading through international telecasts, more right-wing powers’ viewpoints aligned with those of left-wing administrators. 

For example, Gov. Kemp announced to his public ahead of signing House Bill 479, “Today, we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self-defense… with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward.” By Merriam Webster definition, a repeal is to “… rescind or annul by an authoritative act.” More directly, a partial repeal “… can only occur when a named provision of a previous Act is repealed…” the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Drafting Manual claims.

Still, the above is not to be conflated with the general notion of appealing a court’s decision. In layman’s terms, the process was listed in Merriam Webster respectively: 

Law: a legal proceeding by which a case is brought before a higher court for review of the decision of a lower court.

Further, the WomensLaw Organization explains that grounds for appeal are typically established during the specified trial. “Usually, you must also have pointed out that mistake to the trial judge at the time it was made by objecting in court during the trial. This is called ‘preserving your record,'” the national network logged. The American Bar Association backs this reference, joining, “Not often does a losing party have an automatic right of appeal. There usually must be a legal basis for the appeal an alleged material error in the trial…” Far-right extremist groups’ members such as The Proud Boys have circulated misinformation to civilians among the publicly announced goal of “… getting more involved in local politics.”

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point website chronicled their Southern supported political violence alongside national white supremacy symbolism and information, including:

“The political climate in which The Proud Boys was forged has played a crucial role in its outgroup formation and adoption of violent tactics as a solution.”

Attributing archaic customs’ connection, National Geographic published ideas on rally banners, like, “It was never the official flag of the Confederacy. But the battle flag has since been claimed by white supremacists and mythologized by others as an emblem of a rebellious Southern heritage.” Arbery’s southerly trial’s guilty verdicts confront vigilantes to come. Even so, the open-ended legal developments favoring those with privilege who obstructed justice bring disputes concerning the accuracy of the Supreme Court’s declared “equal justice under law.”
































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