The following statement was issued by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the FOR Atlanta/Georgia chapter, and the Center for Jubilee, Reconciliation, and Healing, Inc.
Federal charges are, we agree with Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, “one step closer to justice for Ahmaud.” But those indictments, announced on April 28 in the Southern District of Georgia, are not enough. What happened to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and federal investigations into the state officials who allegedly covered up the murder of Mr. Arbery?
From the outset, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson apparently acknowledged that she had a conflict of interest. Nonetheless, instead of fully recusing herself, the Brunswick District Attorney apparently put Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill on the case — even though the Waycross District Attorney had a similar conflict of interest. And the Georgia Attorney General’s Office followed suit by appointing the Waycross District Attorney.
The conduct of these officials has been under investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia and by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation since May 2020. But no findings have been made public. Once again, it has been left to Wanda Cooper-Jones to take action to hold Georgia officials accountable by bringing a private lawsuit concerning the alleged cover-up.
But the burden should not be on Ms. Cooper-Jones. We demand that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, together with the United States Justice Department, wrap up these investigations forthwith and tell us what they know.
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