Things That Matter

The Three Men Accused Of Chasing And Shooting Ahmaud Arbery Have Been Indicted On Murder Charges

The death of Ahmaud Arbery helped spur much of the anger and pain that have led to the massive movement for justice and racial equality across the nation. His death, at the hand of three white men who chased him while he jogged, has been on the tips of everyone’s tongues as they shout “Black Lives Matter!”

The 25-year-old Black man was gunned down after a struggle between him and three white men who had accused him of being responsible for a string of burglaries, despite having zero evidence.

The three men implicated in Arbery’s murder have been charged and indicted by a grand jury on nine counts, including felony murder.

The men are facing nine charges, including felony murder.

The three men who have been accused in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was on a jog through his neighborhood, were indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury on nine counts.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan, were charged in May in the Feb. 23 killing of Arbery. But a grand jury was convened to officially indict the three men.

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes announced the indictment on nine counts, including malice murder, felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. 

“This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud. Our team from the Cobb Judicial Circuit has been committed to effectively bringing forward the evidence in this case, and today was no exception,” Holmes said in a statement. 

“We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues.”

They had already been charged with murder but because of the Coronavirus, they hadn’t officially been indicted.

Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty Images

The Coronavirus pandemic had slowed legal proceedings across the country. A grand jury is required to meet in person and, therefore, they weren’t able to convene until after June 12, once the state lifted stay-at-home measures.

What’s the difference between being charged and indicted?

Prosecutors in the U.S. have a lot of discretion when it comes to deciding on how to proceed with a criminal case. For one, a prosecutor themselves can examine the evidence (usually supplied by police officers) and decide to issues charges against a defendant.

Or they can present the evidence to a grand jury, who will decide if the state can bring charges against the defendant. There is little difference for the person charged with the crime but the process is different.

Arbery’s killing angered the nation and the botched investigation following his murder proved the need for police reform.

Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Gregory and Travis McMichaels, a father and son, had told police there had been break-ins in the neighborhood and that they began to chase Arbery in their truck when they saw him “hauling ass.”

They heavily armed themselves before hopping in their pickup truck and chasing down Arbery. They confronted him alongside a wooded road and, after a struggle with a shotgun, Arbery was shot by Travis.

No arrests were immediately made in the killing of the young Black man, and outrage intensified when cellphone video of the pursuit and the shooting was publicly released.

And the resulting investigation proved the need for extensive police reforms.

The handling of the case has been marred with conflicts of interest, since one of the men involved is a former investigator for the District Attorney’s office and a former police officer. Several law enforcement officials have had to recuse themselves from the case because of their connections to the McMichael family.

Only after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stepped in to investigate, were the suspects finally brought in on murder charges. Many, including leading politicians on both sides of the aisle, issued harsh statements condemning the manner in which Arbery’s murder was being handled.

Despite the frustration, Arbery’s family has held strong and has remained committed to making sure that his killers are held accountable for their actions, and that justice is served.

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

Things That Matter

There’s Still More To Do But Black Lives Matter Protests Have Resulted In These Major Police Reforms

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the country has struggled with how to best respond to police brutality and racial inequality. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the world) have poured into the streets demanding justice and police accountability.

Although more Black Americans have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd – and long before him – police reform is finally starting to take shape. Several communities across the United States are discussing ways to defund and restructure their police forces and their entire approach to supporting and protecting communities.

Although several victories have already been won, there is still so much work to do to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter.

Minneapolis will defund and dismantle their police force.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a proposal to change the city charter to allow the Police Department to be dismantled – this is the first step in removing the police force.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that still faces significant obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters would have the final say. Activists have long accused the department of being unable to change a racist and brutal culture, and earlier this month, a majority of the council proclaimed support for dismantling the department.

Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach

Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are defunding their police departments.

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Aside from completely dismantling the police, several major cities have committed to defunding their police departments. “Defund the police” has become a common protest chant, as protesters want to see the billions of dollars spent on police equipment and enforcement to instead be spent on investing in communities.

Several jurisdictions have implemented total bans on the police use of choke holds – like the one that killed Eric Gardner.

The NYPD has long banned the use of chokeholds, however, their ban is so often ignored by officers that viral videos of NYPD cops using the deadly maneuver are common. But the New York City Council has just adopted an ordinance that officially makes police use of a chokehold a misdemeanor offense.

The legal ban has already been put into action as an NYPD officer was caught on video using one against a suspect. That officer has already been fired and charged.

Although several police departments have long banned the chokehold – for example, the LAPD banned them 40 years ago – cities are now starting to actually attempt to enforce the ban with legal consequences.

For the first time in decades, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a police reform bill.

Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to address racial inequities in policing, despite strong public sentiment for effective reform after Floyd died in Minneapolis as a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In June, the House passed sweeping legislation to address racial inequality in policing but the bill is all but dead on arrival in the Senate, and has a formal veto threat from Trump.

The bill addresses chokeholds, no-knock warrants, police body cameras, use of deadly force, and training to de-escalate confrontations with suspects and to encourage officer intervention against illegal conduct as it occurs.

And one thing is clear – these reforms have the support of most Americans.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Most Americans believe that change must be made to law enforcement across the nation and that reforms are needed to reduce police brutality against Black Americans.

The poll, which was conducto de by Ipsos on behalf of Public Agenda and USA TODAY, found that about three in four people surveyed say racial bias against Black Americans is a serious problem in the U.S.

The poll found several reforms that focused around training and diversity in policing had support from three-quarters or more of respondents: requiring all officers to undergo training on de-escalation tactics to avoid the use of force, requiring all officers to undergo training on how to be less racially biased and recruiting more Black Americans to become police officers.

Even more popular: transparency reforms. Nine in 10 respondents supported having officers wear body cameras, 8 in 10 supported requiring police departments to publicly report all incidents involving the use of force within 72 hours, and nearly as many supported creating a national public database of officers who have used excessive force – and prohibiting other jurisdictions from rehiring them.

The General Manager Of A Pro Softball Team Used Players To Promote Trump’s Anti-Black Lives Matter Message So The Entire Team Walked

Entertainment

The General Manager Of A Pro Softball Team Used Players To Promote Trump’s Anti-Black Lives Matter Message So The Entire Team Walked

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This week, the pro women’s softball league held its first game in Melbourne, Florida. Soon after the game finished, every member of the Texas-based team called the Scrap Yard Fast Pitch, quit. The reason? The team’s general manager Connie May tweeted a picture of the players standing during the national anthem and tagged Donald Trump.

The women players decided that they’d had it.

In a post shared with Donald Trump on Twitter, May indicated that the members of his softball team are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to the New York Times, the team received numerous texts and notifications of the post once they’d finished their game and returned to their locker room. The image was posted without their knowledge or consent and clearly used by May to promote a political message. The woman say that their standing for the flag has nothing to do with their political views.

Speaking about the incident, The Undefeated reports that “When May was brought into the locker room following the game, players expected an explanation.” May instead attempted to justify her post and at some point said “All Lives Matter.” Having heard enough one of the team’s members Kiki Stokes walked out. Soon after the rest of the team (which has only two Black members) followed. Kelsey Stewart, one of the Black players, was not at the game as wrote her teammates with a screenshot of the tweet saying “I am not going to ever be a part of this organization whatsoever.”

Fortunately, the softball team backed Stewart and Stokes.

“Moments later, her teammates took off their jerseys and followed her,” The Undefeated reports. “Every player in the locker room was done after that moment. They would no longer play for May or the Scrap Yard organization.”

Speaking to the New York Times, Cat Osterman a member the team said “The more we talked about it, the angrier I got, and I finally just said, ‘I’m done, I’m not going to wear this jersey. We were used as pawns in a political post, and that’s not OK.”

In a show of solidarity, USSSA Pride (who played against Scrap Yard Dawgs in Monday’s game) suspended the rest of their planned games.

The two teams were on each other’s schedules which means USSSA is likely refusing to win by default.

No doubt it’s pretty powerful these women decided to quit their jobs to stand with Black Lives Matter and their Black teammates. Speaking about the incident Natasha Watley, the first Black player to play with USA Softball at the Olympics called the move “powerful.” “Not one of them stood back and said this doesn’t really affect me, I’d rather play,” she said adding “We’re already getting paid pennies and now we’re going to get paid nothing to stand up for this. That’s how much it matters.”