Incarceration Nation

The Arbery Trial: What A Difference Tape Makes

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

The three white men, on trial for murder, in Brunswick, Georgia, were convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

The three asserted that they were justified in the killing because they felt threatened by the man who ran at them after they used their vehicles to block his escape from their deadly embrace. All three men were armed. Arbery was not. They used the defense often used by cops: fear of attack. But even the claim of citizens arrest fell before the predominately white jury. This jury had to essentially reject several invitations from defense counsel to demonize Arbery or to humiliate and demean him by reference to his dirty feet. They had to know that such appeals made to rural southerners are like catnip to a cat, but it didn’t work this time. Perhaps because of the wealth of camera footage which showed what happened, especially at important parts of the events.

The films of these events made the difference between acquittal and felony convictions. That’s not all. Without film none of these men would have ever been charged as the local DA and cops hoped. They didn’t just hope, they initially chalked it up to a burglary. And one DA told the killer to go home and to wash his hands. And then camera footage came out. If Arbery’s mother hadn’t fought for him, nothing would have happened.

Prison Radio, November 30, 2021

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