What would Ida B. Wells do?
5/14/2020, 6 p.m.
Violence perpetrated against black people with impunity is an indictment of America and its system of justice. These atrocities will continue until those in authority are held accountable for protecting racist murderers.
Sadly, these occurrences are too frequent and too widespread to shrug them off as the aberrant behavior of a few bad apples. Bad apples rot the entire barrel. Those who commit such acts of violence must be punished, and those who protect them must face justice as well.
The whole dismal event shows that anti-lynching efforts must continue in this nation, alongside the fight for justice.
Not surprisingly, had the video not come to light, the McMichaels may never have been charged in Mr. Arbery’s death. The first prosecutors in the case had seen the video, which was turned over to authorities the day Mr. Arbery was killed. The pair were arrested only after the public saw the video.
In Ms. Wells’ day, there were no cell phone cameras aiding her work. Thankfully, we have the technology that gives us the proof. Social media distribution of videos, such as that in Mr. Arbery’s case, helps to galvanize widespread public support seeking justice.
We hope with Ms. Holmes’ appointment, the scales of justice will come back into balance. But that is not the end. Public officials in Georgia, and in every jurisdiction around the country, must answer to the public.
Jackie Johnson, George Barnhill and Tom Durden, the district attorneys who refused to bring charges against the McMichaels, must be removed from office. Voters in Georgia should mount a drive to recall them from office immediately, or vote them out of office when their terms expire.
Public officials, including police chiefs, district or commonwealth’s attorneys, judges and others are in office to protect the public. They abusethepublictrustandtheirofficeswhentheyarecomplicitwith racists in allowing harm to come to innocent black people.
Mr. Arbery was neither armed nor involved in any illegal activity when he was targeted and hunted down by the McMichaels, officials have said, and no burglaries had been reported in the neighborhood where he was jogging. Clearly there was no justifiable reason for this violent attack, making these attackers – and their protectors — criminals.
If these lynchings are to stop, we, the people, must stop them. We have demanded for years that people of color receive just treatment by police, prosecutors and the courts, but these demands have not been met.
Now is the time to take action. We must march to the polls and vote these criminals out of office.
We will face obstacles, including voter suppression, used by white supremacists to nullify our voting strength. But we must overcome these obstacles if we are to finally overcome the injustices in the American criminal justice system.
We must all work to show that this senseless violence against black people will not be tolerated.