The details of the ongoing case are still a little unclear. But the video is not.
A struggle, three gunshots and a man falls to the ground dead. He lies in the street, his own blood pooling around his body and somewhere, just a few miles away, his mother will be left to wonder why any of this was necessary.
By now, the chances are high that you’ve seen the footage of the 25-year-old black Georgia native being gunned down in the street by two armed white men. If pressing play on the 36-second clip has understandably proven too arduous for you, then at the very least, you’ve likely heard the name Ahmaud Arbery.
Either way, one thing is for certain: the story, both heartbreaking and maddening, hits uncomfortably close to home for countless Black Americans nationwide.
In a nutshell, Arbery, a resident of Glynn County, Georgia who enjoyed staying in shape was said to be on his daily jog in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick. According to the police report, it was then that a 64-year-old white ex-police officer named Gregory McMichael saw him jog by.
The report states that McMichael, believing Ahmaud resembled a man suspected of several break-ins in the area, then called out to his son Travis. The two men, grabbing their guns, chased Ahmaud down the street, hunting him like prey.
Courtesy of the clear footage, viewers can see Ahmaud make multiple attempts to avoid an altercation with the men even as one corners him, blocking his way, holding a handgun. The other, now standing in the bed of his truck, takes aim at the 25-year-old and fires a shotgun.
A struggle ensues as Ahmaud attempts one last time to get away before we hear the sound of a second gunshot followed by a third. And in a matter of seconds, now completely overcome by his wounds, Mr. Arbery stumbles into the street to die like an animal.
That’s how long it takes for the entire video to unfold. In less than a minute, all of the emotions that one would imagine might surface, do. The shock. The hope that he gets away. The anger at such a blatant example of criminal violence and hatred. The disappointment that comes from knowing how many black men continue to face racial profiling on a daily basis …and lastly, the sadness.
Sadness for Ahmaud. Sadness for his family. Devastation for his mother — with whom he lived, just the two of them — who must now come home to an empty house, clear out her son’s belongings, alone… and forever wonder what wonderful things her baby boy might have become if only the hue of his skin were different.
Since the video surfaced, millions have used their varying platforms to speak up and out against racial profiling and citizen policing.
Athletes, musicians and speakers alike have offered at the bare minimum condolences to the Arbery family. Others used their amplified voices to denounce hate and challenge the world to do better.
Among them, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sent out a tweet saying: “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”
Christian voices used their platform to bring awareness to the tragedy as well.
As #JusticeForAhmaud and #AhmaudArbery began to trend like wildfire, author and minister Priscilla Shirer tweeted, “His name is #AhmaudArbery. Say his name – out loud. To our children. To our grandchildren. To our neighbors. In our churches. To your social media followers. And out of respect for his mourning mother. We can’t ignore this. It’s wrong & devastating.”
Christian rapper and philanthropist Lecrae acknowledged the murder by tweeting, “God be with the family of #AhmaudArberry”.
Both tweets were simple but important.
And now that I’ve seen politicians, celebs and black and brown ministers bring awareness to the race-motivated murder, I can only wonder how helpful it might be to also see white evangelical pastors use their platforms to openly denounce racism as well.
While I’m aware that a simple tweet may not change anything at all, I am more certain that disengaging with ongoing crimes that hurt the black and brown body of Christ entirely make a louder statement than the silence itself.
It grieves God’s heart for a world to exist where His followers, feeling comfortable enough to use every ounce of their energy toward anti-abortion laws, can find none of the same energy to provide toward seeking justice, extending empathy or defending the people His son died for.
That’s why the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is the perfect opportunity for white evangelical pastors to prove that they care about more than legalism. It’s a chance to prove that they’re pro-life in every sense of the word …or not at all.
It’s a chance to prove that the same God who inspired Corrie Ten Boom with nothing to gain and everything to lose, to hide 800 Jews in her home would also love to see white preachers stand openly in solidarity with their black and brown brethren as more than closeted allies. Not behind closed doors or in hushed tones. Not when it’s trendy. But always and in all ways: which is when it counts.
Ahmaud Arbery’s murder is a chance to demonstrate how much Jesus’ message still matters. Not by boxing him in to become the aloof, hippie-like, color-blind Jesus that for comfort’s sake, we wish he were — but by applying him to the real world.
Seeking #JusticeForAhmaudArbery is your chance, white evangelicals, to serve the world for which Jesus died. The world that includes all of his children, including the ones who don’t look like you when jogging.