The trial now going on of the killers of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, has extremely high stakes. Ultimately, they are these: are we going back to a period in which, once again, “a Black man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect,” to quote the infamous pre-Civil War Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.1
In February 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia, when he was pursued, shot, and killed by three white men. The trial of the three lynchers—father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan—has been underway in Brunswick.
Prosecutors have been presenting evidence intended to convict the three on charges of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and attempt to commit false imprisonment. The defense will soon begin its case, and it is expected to center on the killers’ claims of “self-defense” as they sought to bring a “suspected criminal” to justice through a “citizen’s arrest”. (See last week’s Revolution article “A 21st Century Lynching: Trial Begins for Killers of Ahmaud Arbery.”)
Last year protests demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery were a big part of the Beautiful Rising against the murder and brutality of Black people that swept the U.S. Fascists, from the Republican Party to white supremacist vigilantes, are trying to “reverse the verdicts” of that rising. They are fighting to return open and unabashed white supremacy. The trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers is inseparable from the attempts to openly reestablish the outright racist norms of the lynching era in which white men could wantonly kill Black people and escape justice.2
Glynn County police testified that they found Ahmaud lying in a pool of his own blood. He had massive, grievous wounds in his chest and under an armpit, from three close-range shotgun blasts. These cops saw blood spattered on Travis McMichael’s face and Greg McMichael’s hand. They soon came into possession of a video taken by Bryan that shows the three killers chasing Ahmaud down with their trucks and menacing him with their guns, and then cornering him. It shows Travis McMichael pointing his shotgun at Ahmaud, who tried to grab it, when he—correctly as it turned out—feared for his life.
The night Ahmaud was murdered, a Glynn County pig called up Ahmaud Arbery’s mother and not only blatantly lied to her about what had happened, they painted Ahmaud as a criminal. She said the cop who phoned her “... told me that Ahmaud had did a burglary, he was confronted by the homeowner and Ahmaud was killed."
And what did the authorities do with the video of the pursuit and shooting of Ahmaud Arbery? They tried to cover it up for over two months! Local police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation didn’t look into the case any further until the video leaked to the public and outraged fury erupted in Georgia and across the country. These pigs let the killers go. They painted Ahmaud as a criminal.
These three racist lynchers portray themselves as victims who acted in “self-defense” as they pursued an alleged “burglar.” Their utterly bogus and thoroughly racist claim of “self-defense” is that three white men can chase a Black man with guns and trucks, then menace him once they have him cornered and when he fearing for his life, defends himself against this brazen attack, THEY kill him. And yet somehow... THEY are the ones defending themselves?!? Then they refer to the man they killed as “trapped like a rat,” the lowest form of vermin they can think of! They are not even charged, and nobody in authority did a damn thing about it for two months except try to cover it up—yet THEY claim to be the victims? BULLSHIT!
Working for Home Court Advantage
Lawyers for the three killers have worked diligently to create a courtroom atmosphere oozing with white supremacy. As Revolution noted last week, Black people—who are over 26% of the population in Glynn County and about 55% of the population of Brunswick, where the trial is being held—have been systematically excluded from the jury. Only one Black person is on it. Even the judge acknowledged that there “appears to be intentional discrimination” in the elimination of so many Black people from the jury. But there are at least two retired “law enforcement officers and one retired military officer” on the jury, as well as five gun owners, and at least two people who cite Epoch Times, a fascist newspaper given out for free at grocery stores across the country, as their “news” source.
That wasn’t enough to satisfy Kevin Gough, Bryan’s lawyer. During jury selection, he complained that “white males ... known as Bubba or Joe Sixpack ... seem to be significantly underrepresented.” More recently he complained about certain Black people just being present in the courtroom and witnessing his attempted legal exoneration of the killers. After Al Sharpton was in the courtroom one day, Gough said, “We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here, or other Jesse Jacksons, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family trying to influence a jury in this case."
Gough offered his “apologies” after his comments triggered an uproar of outrage. But in the same breath he threatened that he will “follow up with a more specific motion on Monday putting those concerns in the proper context.” Perhaps Gough is aiming to pressure the “Bubbas” on the jury—and elsewhere—to align with the lynchers, including if the three are actually found guilty, to set political terms for their sentencing and appeals. Gough and the McMichaels’ attorneys are trying to establish that this trial is on their “home court,” with backward, racist whites filling the stands.
Terms That Must Be Re-Set—A Society That Must Be Repolarized
The document from Bob Avakian, THIS IS A RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION BECOMES POSSIBLE—WHY THAT IS SO, AND HOW TO SEIZE ON THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY, makes the important point that:
With changing conditions in this country, and in the world as a whole, over the time since the end of World War 2 (75 years ago), it has been necessary for the ruling class, in order to maintain “order and stability” in this country, to make certain concessions to the struggle against white supremacy, male supremacy, and some other oppressive relations, while at the same time insisting that this is all part of “creating a more perfect union” and “further perfecting the great democracy that has always existed in this country.” This has also been necessary in order for the rulers of this country to continue promoting it as “the leader of the free world,” which they say must remain the dominant power in the world—but which, in reality, is the most oppressive and destructive power, plundering masses of people as well as the earth.
But a section of the ruling capitalist class, represented by the Republican Party, has all along resisted even these partial concessions to the fight against oppression, and has become convinced that these changes have now gone too far, that they threaten to destroy what has held this country together and enabled it to dominate the world.
As we wrote last week, “Open white supremacy is ‘coming back’ with a vengeance in this country. It is publicly flaunted, encouraged and legislated—in a way it hasn’t been for decades, through things like the ‘stand your ground’ laws that George Zimmerman successfully used as defense in the trial for the racist murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.”
The situation where lynch mobs brazenly mobilize and hunt down and kill Black people, and the police allow them to walk free, urgently needs to be radically transformed. And it can be transformed, as A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION says:
…to where there are masses of people prepared to defeat these fascists and to do so as part of getting rid of this whole system, which has bred these fascists, along with all the other horrors it continually perpetrates.
What we need is “repolarization for revolution”—making real revolution an active and increasingly powerful force of first thousands, and then millions, of people organized to work for and win more and more people to this revolution—radically changing the “terrain” on which the revolution will be fought.