By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
The headline for this column is my exclamation at the agonizing time that the prosecutor and defense counsel are having in getting a jury selected for the soon-to-be sensational jury trial of the three white men who collectively chased down and brutally murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia.
Hundreds of potential jurors have been called in for jury duty for that national profile case but, to date, very few have passed muster to be a potential juror.
Some of the excuses given by the jurors are that they know the alleged killers or that they are hesitant to sit for such an emotional riveting case due to possible negative blowback from their neighbors.
The bottom line is that either way the jury goes, there will be consequences and these potential jurors want to avoid any accountability for dispensing justice and racial justice at that.
I do not know how much of a racial reservoir of history that they may have regarding their home state of Georgia, a state that was noted for a high number of lynchings of Black people “back in the day” when white jurors did not have to bother with the nuisance of even having a jury to try white men for their arbitrary and capricious killings of Black men and women.
In those documented cases, white folk normally did not try white folks when white folks did what white folks did and mind you did well, when they, with impunity, killed Black folks for some reason, little reason or no reason at all.
You did not have to comply with the niceties of impaneling an impartial array of white jurors to come to the local county courthouse and spend hours listening to testimony about how Roy Simpson shot Ray Jones because Ray Jones said, “No” to Roy when Roy wanted to steal his land or cheat him out of his crops.
White jurors back in the day did not have to comply with telling the truth or even try to convince their neighbors that Ray Jones was an uppity “Negra” who got out of his place and thought he was white when Ray Jones looked a white grocer in the eye and told him that he was shorted a dollar and 30 cents.
To call a white man a cheat or a liar back in the day was akin to you simply going out and telling the Black undertaker where to find your bullet ridden body or hanged corpse.
Why even law enforcement (if you want to call it that) rooted for the outraged white person who was accosted by a Black person who demanded his rights or demanded being treated fairly.
Those type of cases simply never made it to a prosecutor to present to a grand jury because it was an understood and foregone conclusion that in “certain” places, a Black person simply did not bring a criminal charge against a white person.
It simply was not done, and it surely was not tolerated. So, when we fast forward to the year 2020 and onward, we still see white folks possessing some of that same disinclination to prosecute white folks for brutality and murder against Black people.
It practically took Glynn County, Georgia forever and a day to even bring charges against these upright fine citizens for their brazen and cowardly acts of hunting, running down and killing Mr. Arbery for his simple act of JWB…a/k/a: Jogging While Black.
Of course, the alleged thugs used the tried-and-true chestnut of saying that Mr. Arbery was caught in some type of nefarious conduct, but the evidence later shows that such was a ruse to cover their racist acts of murder.
Gynn County, Georgia would be more than happy if they could simply brush this whole matter under the lynching tree and go on to other issues but the public outcry (not led by the whites in that county) was too loud for the feckless prosecutors to run and hide.
Now, white folks in that county are going to have to face each other and make an uncomfortable decision that if the overwhelming evidence shows that the three white men deliberately killed Mr. Arbery, they are going to have to convict or lie to themselves and the public, why they would not or could not convict one of their own for a public murder of a black man.
In the good ol’ days, such a public murder would nary draw a second thought because everybody knew that the “Negra” was a bad “Negra” and he deserved it and it would teach a lesson to the other “Negras” that this is what will happen to them if they do not stay in their designated lane.
The classic story “To Kill A Mockingbird” harrowingly tells the tale of an innocent Black man being set up by the justice system to be a convenient scapegoat for a crime he did not commit, but no matter, being black is a crime in and of itself at that time in history.
So, when this murder trial commences, we will be first row witnesses to see if and how white jurors will turn themselves into pretzels to justify the killing of Mr. Arbery by those three vigilantes.
The trial is supposed to be televised nationally (like the OJ Simpson trial) and there will be no hiding place for shenanigans by overzealous defense attorneys or wimpy prosecutors. America will have a chance to see justice made (or not made) before their very eyes.
Contact Lafe Tolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org