We also had Bishop Felton Smith, Jr. of The Church of God in Christ (Prelate of Tennessee Eastern First Jurisdiction and Episcopal Coordinator on the Board of Bishops), Pastor Sonja Lynette Burch, Dr. Chaun Johnson, Pastor Jeffrey Hollins, Archbishop Israel.
We prayed together, listened to each other’s stories and committed to work together to find a way forward in this time of crisis in our nation. Pray for us as we come together as leaders from our various denominations to work toward justice and peace.
74 days. It took 74 days before two men were arrested for chasing down and then gunning down an unarmed African American man. This happened in Brunswick, Georgia — 4 hours away from where I live in Atlanta.
Ahmaud Arbery was killed on 23 February 2020 around 1pm. And after the killing, the two men were questioned by police and were allowed to go home. Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested 74 days later for the killing.
The massive delay between the killing and the arrests is not because the authorities hadn’t seen the video of the last moments of Ahmaud Arbery. But because the world had seen the video of the last moments of Ahmaud Arbery.
The two men chased down Ahmaud Arbery because they suspected him of a burglary and intended to perform a citizen’s arrest according to their accounts. One of the two accused killers was formerly a policeman from 1982-1989 — but not at the time of the incident.
So here we have a case where two armed, white civilians, a father and son, carrying out mob justice where they are police, judge, jury and executioner. And we are hearing about this incident from 23 February in early May. Because a video finally surfaced of the incident and gave the world a look at this horrific injustice.
I can’t help but think about 17 year old Trayvon Martin – killed by George Zimmerman on 26 February 2012 in Sanford, Florida – nearly 8 years ago from this killing of Ahmaud Arbery. George Zimmerman was tried for the murder but he was acquitted after a sensational trial where some of my friends became armchair defense attorneys with their talking points from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Sadly, I had leaders I was working with in the ACNA at the time defending George Zimmerman since he was acting in self defense with the Florida “Stand Your Ground Law.” Unbelievable.
And then there was Jordan Davis. Another unarmed 17 year old killed. This time in Jacksonville, Florida on 23 November 2012. He was shot to death because a 45 year old white over an argument over loud music being played at a gas station. Michael Dunn was arrested and convicted of first degree murder of Jordan Davis in a second trial. 3 of Jordan Davis’s friends were also shot in the hail of gunfire rained down from Michael Dunn and he was convicted of 3 counts of attempted second degree murder. Dunn is serving a life sentence for the killing of Jordan Davis.
Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. What do they have in common? These are three unarmed, African American men who should still be alive today. They were shot and killed for not obeying the orders of armed, civilian white men.
Ahmaud Arbery did not stop after being chased down by an armed self-deputized father and son team who suspected him of committing a burglary. Killed for running while black.
Trayvon Martin did not obey the orders of armed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Killed for walking while black.
Jordan Davis did not turn down the music as ordered by Michael Dunn. Killed for listening to music while black. And 3 of Jordan Davis’s friends shot for listening to music while black.
Underneath it all in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis is white supremacy writ large. Or white privilege that says it’s okay to execute another human being because they did not obey your order as a white man.
This is unacceptable.
O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.