A year after racial protest broke out following the death of George Floyd, a series of recent verdicts have triggered tension in the United States, without, however, reaching the unrest experienced when Donald Trump lived in the White House. There was dissatisfaction across much of the left and black activist groups over the November 19 exoneration of Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man who killed two people in an act of ‘civil surveillance’ against last year’s racial protests, which in many cases led to riots and looting. But on Wednesday another jury found guilty the three white men who killed a young black man nearly two years ago in
Georgia, thus putting limits on the cases in which someone can take the law into their own hands.
These three white men were found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms for the murder almost two years ago of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man running at night in a coastal Georgia neighborhood. There were no arrests in weeks, until a video of the murder went viral on social media during days of racial protest over the murder of another black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Arbery’s was one of the names that was repeatedly shouted in the racial protest of the last months of Trump’s presidency. Now, according to his relatives, and their lawyers, justice has been done in his case, something that, they denounce, is not common. Attorney Ben Crump, a veteran activist representing Arberry’s father, says this case “is a step forward, but there is still a long way to go.”
Dereck Chauvin, the cop who killed Floyd by kneeling in his neck, was found guilty and sentenced to 22 years. But there have been no convictions or indictments in the case of another of the names that was shouted in that racial protest, that of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who died in Kentucky when three white plainclothes officers tried to enter her apartment in an anti-drug operation related to her boyfriend. The latter fired first, and the officers responded and killed Taylor.
Activists against police excesses often report that a disproportionate number of black people are killed by officers. According to data collected by the federal government, there are about 1,000 deaths at the hands of the police every year. Half are white people, the majority. But when considering population percentages, a disproportion is clear. Blacks are only 13% of the population, but 37 per million die in police operations, compared to 15 per million for whites, 60% of the US population.
Hugs and cries
The Arberry case had caught the attention of activists, following Rittenhouse’s exoneration. On Wednesday, at the gates of the court, dozens of supporters awaited the verdict during deliberations that lasted 10 hours. When the jury found the defendants guilty, they hugged and cried. Those already convicted had defended that they suspected that Arberry had robbed a house under construction on several occasions and carried out what is defined as a “Citizen detention”, something that in Georgia is legal in some cases, the most important if the detainee has just committed a crime. The jury found that Arberry did not commit a crime and that he did not present a risk to his executioners.
Another case that has attracted the attention of activists is the Rittenhouse, the young man who at the age of 17 killed two men and wounded a third, all white, with a semiautomatic rifle in the summer of 2020, during the protests. racial. The young man testified that he acted in self-defense, before the attacks of protesters that caused riots in Kenosha, the city of Wisconsin to which he went from the state of Illinois. When crossing from one state to another, his alleged crime would have been federal.
The Rittenhouse case has once again divided a nation used to racial tension. A large group of Republican activists and politicians have made him a hero, someone who came to Wisconsin to confront vandals who looted public and private buildings. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, a close Trump ally, has even proposed that Rittenhouse be awarded the Capitol Gold Medal, which has no signs of prospering.
The presidente Joe Biden he ruled on the Arberry case, and promised changes to reduce racial excesses. “My Administration will continue to strive to ensure that equality before the law is not just a phrase set in stone about the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.”