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    The Ahmaud Arbery Case as Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin Redux

    The Ahmaud Arbery Case as Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin Redux

    Media narratives must be questioned, and the answers may not please a lot of people
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    Hey folks,

    It’s been a while, glad to be back, hope everybody is doing well, and in the interests of efficiency let us all presume that suitable compliments and offerings of adult beverages have been made.

    I expect most of you are aware of the Ahmaud Arbery case down in Georgia, in which two white men, Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael have been charged with felony murder for the shooting death of Arbery, a black male.

    The popular media narrative of this event is along the lines of “white supremacists murder black man for the crime of jogging.”  If you’re getting your understanding of this event from the mainstream media you probably believe that narrative to have at least some resemblance to what actually happened, making this whole affair unquestionably an example of racially motivated murder.

    As those of you familiar with my work might have guessed, I suggest that there exists an entirely different narrative altogether, a narrative based on actual facts and actual law rather than emotive projection and outrage, and one that is sufficient consistent with the McMichaels acted lawfully that it is unlikely (though possible) that their prosecution for felony murder can overcome their anticipated legal defense of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I know, I know: racist. Whatever. Just a small-town lawyer, folks, doing here exactly what I did during the Zimmerman trial–sharing the legal and factual truth as honestly, and with as much informed insight, as I can bring to the task.

    Incidentally, the parallels between this case and the Zimmerman case are many.  Remember how the Zimmerman 911 recording was re-played by the media in modified form in order to suggest that Zimmerman was of a racist mindset?  Yep, I’m seeing exactly the same being done with the 911 recordings in this Arbery case.

    Remember how in the Zimmerman case the photos shown of Trayvon Martin were invariably him as a cherubic 13-year-old, happily smiling, rather than the young man in the wife beater giving the camera the finger while shrouded in apparent marijuana smoke and wielding pistols, while at the same time the photos of Zimmerman were invariably his unflattering mug shot?  Yep, same here, the widely published photo of preference for Arbery is a smiling, suit-wearing, young man–not the mug shot of him with a 1,000 yard stare, a photo available but not chosen by the media.  The McMichaels, of course, are represented by their mug shots.

    Remember how in the Zimmerman case the claim was that Trayvon Martin was murdered for the “crime” of being black while wearing a hoodie? Or or the “crime” of being black and having Skittles and iced tea?  Well, here we have Ahmaud Arbery allegedly murdered for the “crime” of  being black while jogging.

    Yet in both cases there is zero evidence–I mean that literally, zero evidence of any racist motivation on the part of either Zimmerman or the McMichaels. The Eric Holder Department of Justice even sent down teams of FBI Agents to thoroughly investigate the Sanford FL condo complex in which the shooting took place and in which Zimmerman lived, in a desperate search for evidence of racism on the part of Zimmerman that could justify a Federal prosecution of him for hate crimes.

    They found nothing.  And, so far, nothing of a racist nature has been found re: the McMichaels, either.

    Remember how the local police and district attorneys investigated the Zimmerman case, concluded it was lawful self-defense, but then were shoved aside by the state bringing in an outside prosecutor to lead a case for second-degree malice murder against Zimmerman? Same here, with a now fourth prosecutor on the case, assigned at the state level, who filed charges of felony murder against the McMichaels after local authorities had determined their conduct was lawful.

    Remember how the purportedly racist nature of the Zimmerman case was so unquestionable that anyone who suggested an alternative, non-racist narrative to explain what had occurred was immediately condemned as a racist themselves? To doubt the accepted narrative of Zimmerman was to be racist oneself, period. Yep, I’m seeing the same exact dynamic here.

    Remember all the misinformation and disinformation created around the Zimmerman case? For example, the big lie that Zimmerman got out of his car after being told by police not to do so? That lie remains so widely believed that when I ask for a show of hands in the classes I teach at the FBI Academy of those who believe that lie, most of the class does so without hesitation.

    Yep, we’re seeing the same types of misinformation and disinformation in this case. Arbery didn’t steal anything so he can’t have committed burglary. The McMichaels couldn’t have known with certainty that Arbery was a fleeing felon, so they can’t have been justified in pursuing him. Arbery only entered the home unlawfully in order to get a drink of water. All of that, and much more, consists largely of lies, irrelevancies, or the combination of irrelevant lies.

    Why all the similarities? Well, is it possible the similarities exist because the same people are behind the apparent propaganda campaign suddenly launched behind this Arbery case a full two months after the events took place (much as the analogous campaign targeting Zimmerman was not launched until weeks after his successful defense against Martin’s attack)?

    I’m speaking, of course, of Benjamin Crump, Al Sharpton, their associates, and their willing minions in the media.  Same crew, same playbook, same propaganda. They wrote that playbook in Zimmerman, and had so much success they re-deployed it for Michael Brown, for Freddie Gray, and innumerable other revenue-generating opportunities since.  And they appear to be similarly engaged once again here.

    All of that, of course, is just my personal view of this Ahmaud Arbery case from a 30,000 foot level, but this wouldn’t be a Law of Self Defense authored post if I didn’t include some actual legal analysis, so let’s get to that.

    In particular I’d like to share with you two videos I made about the case that focused on the irrelevancy of citizens arrest law to this case. In the first week or two that this case hit the news hard there was much discussion of Georgia’s remarkably broad citizens arrest law, and its possible implications for this case (including in-depth writing on those issues by yours truly).

    Upon closer inspection, however, it became obvious that citizens arrest law, was likely not at all relevant to this case, at least based on the evidence currently available.

    Entertainingly, to my knowledge I was the first legal expert to raise the point that citizens arrest law was likely irrelevant to this case in my video produced and published on Thursday, May 14, 2020.  The following day, Professor Jacobson was kind enough to share with me a press release from Professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University School of Law in which he makes a similar point.  I covered that press release, and added some of my own further thoughts, in a follow up video I produced an published on Friday, May 15, 2020.

    Both of my videos just mentioned are embedded below for your viewing pleasure, as well as Professor Banzhaf’s press release.

    VIDEO: For Your Consideration: May 14, 2020

    VIDEO: Citizens Arrest, Part 2: May 15, 2020

    Professor Banzhaf Press Release: May 15, 2020

    I’m not sure how much writing on this Arbury case I’ll be doing here at Legal Insurrection. I’ve been made more than welcome, as usual, for which I’m as always grateful, but I find my time increasingly constrained by other commitments.

    Should something big happen with the case I imagine I’ll post about it here. For more modest updates, however, you might consider checking in at my Law of Self Defense Blog, where we’ve set up a dedicated page to aggregate my posts on the Ahmaud Arbery case:

    Until next time, stay safe!


    Attorney Andrew F. Branca
    Law of Self Defense LLC


    Donations tax deductible
    to the full extent allowed by law.


    James B. Shearer | May 20, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    “Also to early but what will the toxicology results on Arbery show? …”

    Arbery was killed February 23 so the toxicology results should be back. Media reports say no drugs or alcohol were found in his autopsy. However I have not found a copy of the actual report on the web.

    maxmillion | May 20, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    It looks like another case where jury selection will be critically important.

    Just silly speculation at this early point in the process, but my prediction on this case is hung jury for the 1st trial. My reasoning is that there is no chance of getting 12 unbiased reasonable people not blinded by their emotions as jurors, but it only takes one juror to actually pay attention to the evidence, follow the law, and follow their conscience to bring about a mistrial. Then a refiling of the charges, and a bitter war of attrition that the state will eventually win because it has the resources to keep prosecuting forever. For all their chances of coming out of this in one piece, the McMichaels might as well be living in revolutionary France during the reign of terror. J’accuse! And then the guillotine.

    James B. Shearer | May 21, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    According to a GBI press release:

    “On May 21, 2020, the GBI arrested William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., age 50, on charges of Felony Murder & Criminal Attempt to Commit False Imprisonment. …”

    Bryan was the person who recorded the video. Based on the video I had thought he was in some legal jeopardy since it could be argued that he was driving Arbery towards the McMichaels.

    It is interesting that the predicate felony, attempted false imprisonment, for the felony murder charge is different from that for the McMichaels which was aggravated assault.

    Char Char Binks | May 21, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    Keep up your social distancing if you don’t want to end up like the McMichaels, or Arbery.

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