Trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery: controversy around the jury composed of eleven whites and a single African-American

The jury selected to try three white men accused of the murder of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery was hotly contested Thursday, November 4 in the United States, the African-Americans having all, with one exception, been excluded from the panel of 12 incumbents and four substitutes. ” It’s scandalous “, commented lawyer Ben Crump, specialist in cases of violence against African Americans, denouncing in a statement “A cynical effort to help killers escape justice”.

“It’s very difficult for the family who just want to have a fair trial without racial bias, but it’s part of our system”lawyer Lee Merritt, who defends Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, added in local media. This one, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said to herself “Shocked”.

Read also Death of Ahmaud Arbery in the United States: a prosecutor prosecuted for breach of her duty

On February 23, 2020, her son was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was chased by Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis, 35, and a neighbor of theirs, William Bryan, 52. After an altercation, young McMichael opened fire and killed the jogger. The three men then assured to have taken him for a burglar and had invoked a law of this southern state authorizing ordinary citizens to make arrests.

Late indictment

For nearly three months, the services of the local prosecutor, for whom Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, had worked for a long time, had not made any arrests. The video of the drama had to be broadcast in early May 2020 for the three men to be arrested and charged for “Murder”.

On October 18, a thousand potential jurors were summoned by the Brunswick court which must judge this emblematic case of the Black Lives Matter movement (black lives matter). After two and a half weeks of questioning, 64 candidates, including a dozen African Americans, had been shortlisted, reflecting the racial makeup of the county, where a quarter of the population is black.

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On Wednesday, the defendants’ lawyers, however, challenged all black people except one. In the United States, it is forbidden to exclude a juror solely on the basis of his ethnicity and the prosecutor asked the judge to invalidate the maneuver. The magistrate, Timothy Walmsley, refused. “It looks like there was intentional discrimination”, he admitted. But the defense lawyers “Were able to explain to the Court why, regardless of the racial question, they had challenged these jurors”.

Another jury is controversial

On January 18, 2021, a protester holds a placard demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery outside the court in Glynn County, Georgia.

The trial is due to get under way on Friday with the presentation of the parties’ arguments and last for several weeks. Ironically, another almost monochrome jury (11 white and one colored) was rocked by controversy Thursday in Kenosha, in the north of the country.

The city was set on fire in August 2020 after white police seriously injured a young black man, Jacob Blake, by shooting him in the back. On the sidelines of the protests, a young white man Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire on protesters, killing two and injuring one.

Read also Death of Ahmaud Arbery in the United States: three men formally charged with murder

On the fourth day of his trial, the judge excluded a member of the jury, a white pensioner who had quipped about the blunder at the origin of the case. “Why did the police shoot Jacob Blake seven times?” “, he had launched the day before, in the form of ” joke “, to a court officer accompanying him. “Because she was out of bullets …”

The World with AFP

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Trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery: controversy around the jury composed of eleven whites and a single African-American