Ever since the recent video surfaced of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery being ambushed and killed by Travis and Gregory McMichael (which occurred back in February), celebrities have attempted to use their respective platforms in various ways to either raise awareness or figure out the next and tangible steps toward action and justice.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s Team Roc (the social justice arm of Roc Nation) recently penned an open letter to Georgia state officials, which was published on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Along with Jay, Alicia Keys, Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, Robert “Meek Mill” Williams and two attorneys also signed the letter.
The letter said District Attorney Tom Durden should be recused from the case due for a conflict of interest since Gregory McMichael, one of the two men charged with murder, was a former police officer. The letter urges state Attorney General Christopher Carr to instead appoint a special prosecutor to help achieve a fair trial. It also says a neighbor should be charged as an armed accomplice.
“We are all Ahmaud Arbery,” Yo Gotti said in a statement. “Everyday activities should not end in death sentences. We must hold people responsible for their actions. Ahmaud Arbery was unarmed and innocent and his killers must be brought to justice.”
Given that the tragic incident occurred back in February and we are just now seeing forward motion, it is understandable why celebrities and activists are calling for fast action in this case. After reviewing the initial footage, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested the McMichaels on murder and aggravated assault charges. On Tuesday, District Attorney Tom Durden recommended that Arbery’s case be seen in front of a Glynn County grand jury. Following additional footage of the video where Arbery was seen at a construction site minutes before the ambush occurred, Georgia’s attorney general called on the federal government for assistance moving forward.
Staff Writer Anne Branigin recently reported:
For weeks, the Arbery case bounced between three different district attorneys. As the Washington Post reports, it first went to Jackie Johnson in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, before she recused herself because Gregory McMichael had, until recently, worked in her office as an investigator. He also worked as a cop with the Glynn County Police for seven years; that department was involved in investigating Arbery’s shooting.
The case then went on to district attorney George Barnhill of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, who recused himself only after Arbery’s mother complained that Barnhill’s son used to work with McMichael at the Brunswick DA’s office. Before passing on the case, Barnhill wrote that there was “insufficient probable cause” to charge the McMichaels with a crime, stating that the pair were within their rights under the state’s citizen arrest and self-defense statutes.
“If anybody saw that horrifying video of his killing, it is heartbreaking, unbelievably unacceptable and inhumane,” Keys said in a statement to The Associated Press. “No human being should be murdered and not receive justice. I have black sons and they should be able to go on a jog or anywhere they want without the risk of being killed.”