Newswire : Ahmaud Arbery’s killers found guilty of hate crimes in Federal Court

Ahmaud Arbery and his mother


By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


A federal jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan guilty on all counts in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
The verdict came on the eve of the anniversary of Arbery’s murder.
The McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery through their mostly white Georgia neighborhood in their pickup trucks, cornering him before Travis McMichael shot the innocent jogger with a shotgun.
The trio was convicted in state court and given life sentences. The federal charges included a hate crime that exposed each of the men’s history of racism. Throughout the one-week trial, defense attorneys tried to sell the jury that, while the men weren’t “likable,” their actions weren’t driven by racial hatred.
However, Prosecutor Christopher Perras ferociously attacked that stance. The murder “was driven by their pent-up racial anger and [Travis McMichael] was just looking for a reason,” Perras insisted. He also noted that if the men thought Arbery had committed a crime, they never alerted the police.
Trial testimony from FBI intelligence analyst Amy Vaughan revealed a host of racist remarks from Travis McMichael. Vaughn testified that Travis McMichael and his friends routinely used racist slurs directed at African Americans.
One text from Travis McMichael to a friend describes how he enjoyed his new job because he didn’t have to work with Black people.
“They ruin everything,” McMichael wrote. “That’s why I love what I do now. Not a [n-word] in sight.”
In a Facebook video that purportedly shows a group of Black teenagers beating a white youth, Travis McMichael commented, “I say shoot them all,” and he referred the group as “monkeys.”
Travis McMichael also referred to a woman who dated a Black man as an “[N-word] lover.”
Kim Ballesteros, who lived next door to the McMichaels, told the court about a conversation in which Gregory McMichael used racist language to describe a tenant he had.
“She was a large Black woman who did not pay her rent very well,” Ballesteros told the court. “Their name for her was the walrus.”
When Gregory McMichael told her that the woman didn’t pay her rent on time, he disabled her air conditioning unit. “You should have seen how fast her big fat Black a– came with the rent check,” Gregory McMichael said, according to Ballesteros.
The FBI’s Vaughan also testified that Bryan often used the n-word and words like “bootlip” to describe Black people.
She said he routinely slurred African Americans on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Happy Bootlip Day,” Bryan told a friend in one message. “I worked like a [n-word] today,” he stated.
Perras dismissed any notion that the defense attorney’s claims on behalf of his clients somehow justified their deadly actions. “There’s a big difference between being vigilant and being a vigilante,” he told the jury. “It’s important for you to understand the full depth of the defendants’ racial hatred.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump released the following statement following the verdict:
“Tomorrow marks two years since Ahmaud Arbery was stalked, trapped, and murdered in cold blood as he jogged through his Brunswick neighborhood. And today, after much sorrow, grief, and pain, Ahmaud’s family can finally put this chapter behind them. For the last 24 months, they’ve dedicated themselves to getting justice for their son. They’ve had to relive his brutal murder, watch and listen as he was demonized in court, and fight to share with the world who Ahmaud Arbery was and who he could have been had his young life not been so violently cut short.
“For many of us, there was never any doubt that Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan targeted Ahmaud because of his skin color. But because of indisputable video evidence, disgusting messages sent by the defendants, and witness testimony, their hate was revealed to the world and the jury. We hope and demand that the severity of their crimes are reflected in the sentencing, as well.
“Ahmaud Arbery was denied the opportunity to define his own legacy, but America, we have the power to ensure that it is one that propels our fight for equal justice and dispels hate from this world. That is how we continue to honor Ahmaud and make sure his death was not in vain.”

Newswire: Pulitzer Board issues special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded George Floyd’s murder

Darnella Frazier takes video of George Floyd’s murder

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

 Pulitzer Prize to the list of awards and recognition bestowed upon Darnella Frazier, the teen who bravely videotaped the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The Pulitzer Prize board issued a special citation to Darnella, who is now 18. “For courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice,” the Pulitzer Board wrote. For her efforts, Darnella is also receiving the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) highest journalism award and a monetary scholarship at the NNPA’s annual convention, which begins on Wednesday, June 23. NNPA is the trade association of the hundreds of African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America. NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., applauded Darnella and called her a “freedom fighter” who ensured justice was finally done in the case of a police officer killing an unarmed African American. “We salute this brave young woman, who had the courage to keep on filming even as the officers tried to intimidate her,” Dr. Chavis stated. Floyd family Attorney Benjamin Crump told the Black Press that there would be no civil settlement or a trial and conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin had it not been for Darnella’s actions. “It was Darnella Frazier who stepped up,” Crump asserted. Officials in Minneapolis reached a record $27 million civil settlement with Floyd’s family, and Chauvin faces as much as 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced on June 25. “We wouldn’t have any of that without Darnella Frazier taking that video,” Crump reiterated. The video was the most damning piece of evidence during Chauvin’s trial, and Darnella took the witness stand and offered powerful testimony to back up the recording. “Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself,” Frazier wrote in an Instagram post on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder. “If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth.” “My video didn’t save George Floyd,” she added, “but it put his murderer away and off the streets.”

Newswire : Clark autopsy reveals he was shot in the back six times

Clark

Renowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu reveals his findings of the independent autopsy he performed on the body of Stephon Clark. Dr. Omalu said Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police officers, was shot six times in the back. PHOTO/Robert Maryland

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Sacramento Observer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Trice Edney News Wire) – The eight bullets that struck unarmed Stephon Clark hit him in the back or side, and none came from the front, clearly refuting the contention by police that Clark was moving toward them when they gunned him down. Those are the findings of an independent autopsy performed at the request of Stephon’s family by internationally renowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.

“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who has been retained by members of the Clark family to obtain justice.

“From the time this investigation began, statements provided by the Sacramento Police Department have proven to be self-serving, untrustworthy, and unreliable. This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances,” Crump continued.
“The children lost their father and deserve justice. We are conducting a thorough investigation to determine how this happened,” co-counsel Attorney Brian Panish said.
Crump said the Clark family requested the independent autopsy after Stephon’s body was released to them by the medical examiner. Dr. Omalu has been widely hailed as the man who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and its relationship to brain damage in football players. His story was illustrated in the theatrical film “Concussion,” in which he was portrayed by Will Smith.
According to Dr. Omalu’s findings, Clark was shot eight times with no front entry wounds. His independent autopsy identified four entry wounds in the lower part of Clark’s back; one in the side of his neck, with an exit wound elsewhere in his neck; one in the back of his neck; one under an armpit entering from the side, with an exit wound on the other side of his body; and one in the outside of a leg.
Crump said this information shows that Clark clearly was not moving toward officers in a threatening manner and they could have given him time to comply with their commands to show them his hands at the time they opened fire.
“Beyond the fact that police at first said Stephon’s cellphone was mistaken for a gun, but then changed their story to say they thought it was a crowbar, our autopsy has shown that he was shot repeatedly in the back – which is certainly not characteristic of someone menacing officers or preparing an imminent attack,” Crump said.
Crump said he expects that authorities will try to dispute or minimize Dr. Omalu’s findings because they directly contradict the official story of this unjustifiable shooting.
“When Dr. Omalu said football players were suffering brain damage, the NFL tried to dismiss his findings as completely wrong, but later had to reverse themselves. I’m sure the police will similarly try to discredit his findings about Stephon Clark, but once again the truth will win out.”