Wednesday, May 6, 2020

This Was a Hunt

I saw the story yesterday and wrote about it, in parallel with another news article.  I came across the story as a sidebar CNN story- not a lead, not a headliner. Dead black runner, chased, shot and killed by two white men who had not been charged with his murder.

This morning, someone released video of the shooting.

I will tell you, I don't normally watch these kinds of videos, as in never. I shy away from them, I don't have any need to see the violence. I'm not sure why I clicked on it this time. Maybe because I had written about this story already. Maybe because the dead man is a runner, like me and yet not like me at all.

I had to watch it several times to make sense of what I was seeing. I won't post a link to it because it is incredibly disturbing, and I will probably have nightmares. But in the video, you see Ahmaud Arbery running at an even pace, down the street, facing traffic as runners should when running in places with no sidewalk. He comes around a corner and a white pick-up truck is already there, driver's door open, man standing in the bed of the truck. He goes around the truck on the passenger side and then you see him pop out on the driver's side, struggling with a very large man (much larger than the runner) who has a shotgun. They wrestle, and the man in the truck bed takes a shooter's stance, holding a handgun. The struggle goes off camera.

There are three shots.

The shots are spaced apart.

The men stumble back onto the screen, and you see the Ahmaud stumble away from the large man, turn, run a few steps, and drop to the ground.

The video ends with the large white man walking with his back turned to the dying man, shotgun in one hand. He doesn't look back.

When I watched the video the first time, I was in the place and thinking through what I might have been thinking if I were the one running. I've been harassed by these men, who then sped by me. Maybe they are gone, and I can get back to running... nope. There's the truck. Ok, I'm going to try to get around it. MAN WITH A GUN! 

From here, I don't know what I would think. Or do. I don't know that any of us does, until we are actually in that situation. And I hope we never are. As a white woman, I know I face risk of harassment while running, but it is unlikely I will be chased down by white men with guns on the premise of looking like someone who might have been involved in a burglary.

The second time I watched, I noticed something else, and had to go back and watch again to make sure.

I realized this was a set up.

The killers drove ahead of the man. They positioned their car. They made intentional choices about where they positioned themselves - one in front of the vehicle and out of view.

One standing on top of the truck bed.

In a position of power.

With a gun.

In a position that can only be seen as intimidating and controlling, like a hunter up in a deer blind in the trees in Michigan where I grew up.

This is intentional. Calculated. These are not the actions of men who are frightened and defending themselves. They set the scene, and waited for their victim to walk into it.

This was a hunt.

I reread the story, and realized there was something I missed yesterday.

The man in the truck bed was a retired police officer.

Having worked with and beside many wonderful officers in my career, I know the training they receive, and the messages that are drilled into them, over and over.

And message number one: you do not draw your weapon unless you intend to fire it.

It does not mean that you actually WILL fire, but officers learn that you do not draw your weapon unless you are prepared to and willing to put your finger on the trigger and pull.

The former police officer, standing in the bed of his truck in advance of Ahmaud's approach, got in a shooter's stance, drew and aimed his weapon.

He was willing to pull the trigger from a position of intimidation and control.

There should be no doubt. There is enough evidence for these men to be arrested immediately, held and charged with murder.


This should have happened the day of the shooting, but clearly the racism in this county is such that it takes video evidence to even consider charging white men with the murder of a black man.

The DA's who reviewed this initially should resign, or be fired. There needs to be a call for justice and a deep examination of the kind of racial politics in this community and this country that led to the death of Ahmaud Ahbery.



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