This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful That a Modern-Day Lynching Was Seen As a Crime

Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers being brought to justice is a small victory in a never-ending fight

Wajahat Ali
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readNov 25, 2021

--

Photo: Michael S. Williamson/Getty Images

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that three men who decided to hunt and lynch Ahmaud Arbery for the crime of jogging while Black in America can still be found guilty by a mostly White jury of their peers.

(No anti-lynching bill has been passed by Congress into federal law. Thank you, filibuster, White supremacy, and Rand Paul.)

I’m thankful that one of the members of this lynch posse, William “Roddie” Bryan, decided to tape his fellow murderers chasing Arbery in their white pickup truck, blocking his path, and then fatally shooting him with a shotgun. Without this crucial evidence, Arbery would just be another statistic, a chalk outline on the side of a road, whose death would be rationalized and accepted because he would be demonized as a thug with “long dirty toenails.”

I’m thankful that the video was leaked online on May 5, 2020, nearly two-and-half months after the murder, because the world got to know the name and story of a 25-year-old Black man, a former star high school football player, and an avid jogger, who woke up on Feb. 23, 2020 with dreams and hopes, unrealized and unfulfilled, because after five minutes of trying to outrun a pickup truck, he was eventually cornered and murdered.

I’m thankful that we know the names of the three murderers, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and the aforementioned Bryan, all of whom decided it was their birthright and duty to partake in the good old fashioned ultra violence of the South, just like so many other good ol’ boys before them.

I’m thankful that because of that video, and the subsequent outrage and interest in the case, we learned that these three murderers were initially consoled and comforted by the local police as Arbery lay bleeding and dying on the road. They were sent home after killing an innocent man in cold blood, because Jackie Johnson, the local prosecutor, directed police not to arrest them. She knew Gregory McMichael, who was a former investigator in her office. Since then, she has lost her re-election bid in 2020, and she was…

--

--

Wajahat Ali
LEVEL
Writer for

Author of GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM…; The Daily Beast Columnist; Senior Fellow Western States Center; wajahatmali@protonmail.com