Last week, a graphic video was released detailing the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Outrage erupted at the fact that over two months had passed since the incident and Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, the men charged with his murder had not been arrested (both men are currently in custody). Now, a group of current and former NFL stars have requested the Department of Justice step in and ensure justice is served.
NBC News reports that Malcolm Jenkins, safety for the New Orleans Saints, and 60 other current and former NFL players have written an open letter requesting Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice investigate the death of Arbery as a hate crime. The letter was sent by the Players Coalition, a social justice initiative formed in 2017 by Jenkins and former wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The letter states that federal intervention is needed to ensure the case isn’t mishandled by Georgia prosecutors.
From NBC News:
“The sad truth is that Ahmaud’s case isn’t unique at all,” Jenkins said. “He is a representation of the ongoing level of distrust that a large part of our communities have in law enforcement and elected officials and the importance of placing reform like-minded people in office who will uphold the highest standards of the law for everyone, regardless of color.”
“It also reinforces that we need hate crime laws in Georgia as well as Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming,” Jenkins said of the four states without such legislation. “These ‘loopholes’ to justify these kinds of acts will continue to hold us back from justice for everyone.”
Among those who support the Players Coalition’s letter are former player Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president, Miami Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The case has been under increased scrutiny due to the amount of time that passed between the murder and the arrest of those allegedly responsible. Arbery’s case has gone through four different prosecutors, with the first two recusing themselves due to a professional relationship with Gregory McMichael, a former investigator for the Brunswick district attorney’s office. The DOJ has already insinuated that they may potentially pursue federal hate crime charges on the case.
“The FBI and DOJ have an army of resources, and their goal never changes: to protect the vulnerable and intervene where powerful people have caused grave harm. They obtained a guilty verdict in the Rodney King case. They held the perpetrators of the Danziger Bridge shootings accountable. They have prosecuted guards at Parchman prisons. And they have led investigations all over the country that have proved critical in restoring trust between law enforcement and people of color.” Jenkins told NBC News.
Jenkins was among the many who ran 2.23 miles last Friday in honor of what would’ve been Arbery’s 26th birthday. Arbery was out for a jog in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Ga on February 23 when Travis and Gregory McMichael confronted and fatally shot him. They believed him to be responsible for a robbery in the Santilla Shores neighborhood. Video released this week showed that Arbery simply observed a construction site and neither stole nor damaged any property. Both men were arrested last week shortly after the release of the video.