“Their feet run to evil,
They are quick to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are thoughts of sin
Their highways are devastation and destruction.”
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery put on some workout clothes, and went for a run in Glynn County Georgia. According to those close to him, this was not unusual in the least. As someone who runs with frequency, I get it. Most, but perhaps not all, runners are creatures of habit. You have to have strong habits in order to train for anything. Whether it is preparing for a race, trying to lose weight, or just trying to be fit, you get up multiple times a week and run. You need that.
Probably because the aforementioned consistency can be so boring, runners on the whole tend to be curious. Most of us don’t like to run the same loop 20 times, every day, without change. So we will explore new routes. We’ll run through somewhat familiar territory, make little changes along the way. If we see something new or different, that curiosity takes over and we’ll often go an examine it.
This is why, as a runner, it was not at all surprising that Arbery would go to a home under construction, when no crews were there, to take a quick look around. A lot of it is human nature.
At some point later, at least two white men, one of whom was a former police officer and current (at the time) investigator for the police, George McMichael, along with his son, Travis, found out that a black man was running near their street. The McMichaels had their truck broken into not too long before this incident, but had no lead on who had committed the break-in. They grabbed their guns, jumped into a truck, and sought to find this black man, Ahmaud Arbery. At some point William “Roddie” Bryan was enlisted by the McMichaels to assist in detaining Arbery. It is unclear what their relationship was, or what let Bryan to assist them. The McMichaels’ original story was that they were attempting to detain Arbery because they believe he was responsible for a “string of burglaries” in the area. The only reported burglary had been the breaking into the McMichaels truck. They did not know (despite current claims) that Arbery had entered a construction site, nor were any of these individuals police.
The McMichaels and Bryan caught up to Arbery and these three men, two of them armed, in their vehicles, demanded that Arbery stop. Again, as a runner, it is terrifying enough running down a road when a car tries to pass you a little bit too closely (there’s so much extra road over there), that I can only begin to imagine what a black man, in Georgia, being chased by multiple vehicles, one with two armed white men demand I stop, would have thought. I’m sure he knew he was probably going to die the moment they told him to stop.
After unsuccessfully trying to get away, and being pinned by two vehicles (that were not afraid to drive off the street toward him), Arbery changed from flight to fight. As Travis McMichael ran out of his truck, gun pointed at him, Arbery fought back. It was likely his best (if incredibly slim) chance of survival. Travis McMichael shot him multiple times (not just once), then stood over his lifeless body and delcared “F****ng n****r.” It’s important to note that Michael’s lawyers do not dispute that he said that. They merely try to excuse it as part of the culture in the region (akin to saying “he can’t be racist if the whole culture is racist.”).
That happened on February 23. Multiple DAs refused to look into the case. For months, nothing happened. The crime could be seen on video. No one did anything. It was not until April that anything began to happen. Since then, and most especially since the George Bureau of Investigation took over, all three men have been arrested.