Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Ahmaud Arbery

Ruthie Freeman of the Transformative Justice Coalition demands justice for Ahmaud Arbery outside the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia on October 18, 2021 as jury selection began for the trial of three men accused of murdering the unarmed Black jogger in February 2020. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

'Outrageous': Nearly All-White Jury Chosen for Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial

"After being hunted down, cornered, and shot for being a Black man in a white Georgia neighborhood, Ahmaud Arbery is again denied justice."

Brett Wilkins

Relatives of Ahmaud Arbery, their attorneys, and racial justice advocates expressed shock and indignation Thursday following the selection of a nearly all-white jury—even after the presiding judge accused the defense of "intentional discrimination"—in the trial of three men accused of murdering the unarmed Black jogger in Glynn County, Georgia last year.

"Is the KKK serving as jury consultants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial?"

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that from a qualified pool of 65 prospective jurors, just one Black man was selected to serve on the 12-member jury that will hear the case against Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan Jrw. All four alternate jurors are also white.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Glynn County, where Arbery's killers are being tried, is nearly 27% Black. The city of Brunswick, where Arbery was fatally shot while jogging in February 2020, is nearly 55% Black.

"I was very shocked that we had only one Black, African-American juror," said Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, according to First Coast News. "That was devastating."

Lee Merritt, Cooper-Jones' attorney, said the situation is "very difficult for a family who just wants a fair day in court without racial bias, but it's inherently built into our system."

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Arbery's family, released a statement Thursday denouncing the jury selection. 

"After being hunted down, cornered, and shot for being a Black man in a white Georgia neighborhood, Ahmaud Arbery is again denied justice," Crump said. "His killers' fate will be decided by a nearly all-white jury."

"A jury should reflect the community," Crump asserted. "It's outrageous that Black jurors were intentionally excluded to create such an imbalanced jury in a cynical effort to help those cold-blooded killers escape justice."

Upon reviewing each juror elimination, Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court acknowledged that "quite a few African-American jurors were excused through peremptory strikes executed by the defense."

"This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel," Walmsley declared, adding that the defense's "very adept counsel... has been able to explain to the court why, separate from race, those individuals were in fact struck from the panel."

Walmsley explained that in Georgia, "all the defense needs to do is provide that legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific, and related reason" to exclude potential jurors.

Lawyers for the defendants said they struck 13 potential white jurors for the same reason as they excluded so many Black people.

"Never before have we had a case where so many people have entered into the courtroom for jury selection already having an opinion about the guilt of the men charged," Jason Sheffield, one of the attorneys defending Travis McMichael—who fired the three shotgun blasts that killed Arbery—told First Coast News.

Kevin Gough, Bryan's defense attorney, voiced concern that the final jury pool wasn't diverse enough because there weren't more older white men without college degrees.

"We're missing a segment of what would normally be here," Gough complained, referring to a lack of "Bubbas or Joe Six-Packs."

Merritt, who accused defense attorneys of "badgering" some of the potential jurors, told The New York Times that "this has been the strangest jury selection process I have ever seen." 

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Cooper-Jones said she is "very confident" the jurors will "make the right decision after seeing all the evidence."

Arbery, an accomplished athlete and avid runner, was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020 when he was confronted by the McMichaels and shot by the son as Bryan recorded the attack. While the assailants said they suspected Arbery of robbing a home under construction in the neighborhood, there was no evidence that any such crime occurred.

According to Bryan, Travis McMichael called Arbery a "fucking nigger" as he lay dying.

The three men were questioned by police before being allowed to go free for 74 days. Waycross District Attorney George E. Barnhill called the killing an act of "justifiable homicide" under Georgia's "stand your ground" law, prompting outrage over what some critics called a "modern-day lynching."

In April, the three defendants were charged with federal hate crimes in connection with Arbery's killing.

Opening statements in the trial are set to begin Friday morning.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Research Reveals How PR Firms Have Spent Decades Fueling Climate Misinformation

"The best time to stop working for fossil fuel clients was 20 years ago, when we had much more time to stop the climate emergency. The second best time is now."

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Decry US Gun Control Failures After 'Truly Sickening' Michigan School Shooting

"A 15-year-old shooter may have picked up the weapon, but Congress—through its inaction on gun violence—may as well have handed it to him."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

Jessica Corbett ·


Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


With SCOTUS Set to Hear Abortion Case, Anti-Choice Groups Prepare to Enact 'Post-Roe Strategy'

Right-wing groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass state-level restrictions and ban sales of abortion pills, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo