Unlike the previous two seasons of WABE’s Peabody award-winning podcast, “Buried Truths,” its third debut takes on the recent case of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot and killed while jogging in a Brunswick-area neighborhood by a white father and son. The podcast originated from the work of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project under Emory University.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Hank Klibanoff runs the class. He told WABE that for months this year, we reverted back to 1950s Georgia.
“When white people, particularly police, could kill Black people with impunity,” Klibanoff said, in response to the fact that no arrests were made for more than two months after Arbery was killed in February.
“They wouldn’t be charged, they wouldn’t be tried. If they were charged, if they were tried, they would be found not guilty uniformly,” he said.
On the one hand, he said, it’s shocking that the Arbery case happened in 2020. On the other, its a long arc of injustice, a pattern that’s clear.
“We don’t know yet if there will be justice in the Ahmaud Arbery case,” Klibanoff said.
“The mere fact that the three white men are still in jail represents change.”
Gregory and Travis McMichael armed themselves, jumped into a pickup truck and pursued Arbery. A third neighbor, William Roddie Bryan, joined in the pursuit and recorded cellphone video of the shooting. Police reports say the men thought Arbery was a burglar.
Gregory McMichael had been a longtime investigator for the district attorney’s office, and a former Glynn County police officer.
All three men have been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, and remain jailed, awaiting trial.
Attorneys for the McMichaels have recently told reporters that the case is not about race. One of Travis McMichael’s defense attorneys told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a story published this month that “Mr. Arbery was not targeted because he was Black.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Richard Dial testified during a preliminary court hearing in June that Travis McMichael uttered a racist slur as he stood over Arbery’s body. That was reported to agents by the third suspect, William Roddie Bryan.
Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.