They saw him. They grabbed their guns, got into their trucks and stalked him.
One took out his phone to record it — not to call the police to report his suspicions.
No, they could handle this. They could make a citizen’s arrest. So, they killed him and then, they went home.
Yes, the police came, they explained their side of things and then they went home. For 74 days, they went home.
A dead body lay in the street. It couldn’t accuse them of anything, so they went home.
“I feared for my life.” “He looked threatening.” “He reached for something. I thought it was a gun. So, I shot him.”
Pick one and then go home. Because these stereotypical accounts have a way of working themselves out. So just go home and we’ll figure something out, right?
Because race, the caste system with a good paint job, has its own song: “If you’re white, you’re right/ If you’re black, get back…” Everyone just fall in line and everything will fall into place.
Consequently, European Americans, those racialized as white people, can never be wrong. Associated with a color not a culture, they are painted picture perfect, without spot or blemish. Model American citizens, they could never do anything wrong, right?
Except for history’s memory where European colonizers stole African people from their native land. Members of communities, Abron, Bakongo, Chamba, Fulani, Igbo, Mande, Mbundu, Fon, Yoruba and Wolof, to name a few, went out to run an errand, to work and to play and never made it back home.
And remember when there were public lynchings? When African Americans, accused of a crime or not, were taken from their homes and jail cells, hung from trees, bridges and light poles?
The events surrounding their deaths were described in local newspapers, images of African American bodies hanging, mutilated and sometimes charred, were made into postcards.
They were sent to family and friends, and the victim’s body parts were cut off and sold as souvenirs. Who could do such a thing?
In Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, a local reporter writing about the people who lynched, mutilated, skinned and burned Sam Hose said:
“The people of Georgia are orderly and conservative, the descendants of ancestors who have been trained in America for 150 years. They are people intensely religious, homeloving and just. There is among them no foreign or lawless element.”
And if you are wondering what Sam Hose did: He asked for the wages owed to him by Alfred Cranford.
Cranford refused to pay the debt and pulled out a pistol. Hose killed Cranford in self-defense.
Cranford’s widow later corroborated this account, though an earlier version stated she had been sexually assaulted by Hose while her husband laid in the pool of blood dying.
The allegation of sexual assault was used then like “I felt threatened” is used now to justify the murder of African Americans.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are Ahmaud Arbery’s convicted murderers.
Arbery died tragically in February 2020 while jogging in a neighborhood in Satilla Shores, Georgia. The men found his presence in the neighborhood suspicious.
Charges were only filed after the video went viral and concerned citizens called for justice.
Lawyers for Arbery’s family, along with other commentators, have called it “a modern-day lynching.”
Surprisingly, a lawyer representing one of the accused, Kevin Gough, called the demonstrations outside the courthouse a “public lynching.”
While tragic, this story is not an uncommon one for the African American community. Journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett recorded thousands of them.
An anti-lynching bill was first introduced by Representative George Henry White in 1900, the only African American member of Congress. It was defeated.
This pattern has repeated itself nearly 200 times, with the most recent being the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act introduced by Representative Bobby Rush.
It would designate lynching, a widely understood “tool of terror,” as a hate crime under federal law. The bill is being held up by Senator Rand Paul who desires a narrower definition of lynching.
Emmett Till, a 14-year-old teenager from Chicago, Illinois, was lynched in Money, Mississippi, for allegedly whistling at a socially colored white woman.
Though his murderers confessed to the heinous crime in Look magazine, they were never found guilty. They tortured and killed Till, and then they went home.
Now, African American parents tell their children to put their hands on the dashboard during a traffic stop. Be extremely polite and answer the officer’s questions. Because you might be seen as a threat, shot to death and not make it home.
Consequently, while persons continue to argue about critical race theory, I am sure that history is not repeating. No, these stories are being told presently by those who get to go home.