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Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I want you to join me on an important journey. Before we commence, I’ll let you in on our destination: the kingdom of truth. Few who set out on a journey to the kingdom of truth ever reach their destination. But today, people of the jury, I can promise you, that is where we shall arrive.

We are not going to make this journey by ourselves, ladies and gentlemen. Our companions are the facts of this case. 

What do the facts of this case tell us? The first fact is that Travis McMichael never denied killing Ahmaud Arbery. But he had an explanation, he said. What was the explanation? He received a call from a neighbor saying a suspicious Black man had gone into a house that was under construction, had come out, and had begun running. Why did this neighbor call him and not the police? 

Well, the neighbor had called the police. The police gave the neighbor McMichael’s number and said to call him and McMichael’s father if they ever saw suspicious activity in the community. 

Where in America do average citizens have such power? McMichael was in the comfort of his truck, armed with a shotgun and riding with his father, who was also armed. They were followed by a neighbor, William “Roddy” Bryan Jr., who was also armed. Ahmaud ran unarmed and alone.

Travis McMichael was not a police officer on duty, and Ahmaud Arbery had committed no crime. If Travis McMichael feared for his safety, he should have called the authorities. But he and his father became the authorities. Travis McMichael was the aggressor that day.

The second fact speaks even more loudly. Travis McMichael claimed that he wanted Ahmaud Arbery to stop running so that he and his father, Gregory McMichael, could ask him a few questions about his reasons for being in their neighborhood. Where in America can the average citizen stop and question another citizen in this way? 

Instead of asking three questions, they gave him three shots to the chest with a shotgun at close range. 

Now let another fact speak to you, friends. Travis McMichael was lethally armed, and Ahmaud was not. Who would you say had a decisive advantage: the man with the vehicle and weapon or the man on foot and unarmed? After chasing him down and blocking him in, Travis McMichael got out of his truck and confronted Ahmaud with a shotgun. That doesn’t sound like he just wanted to ask a few questions. Travis McMichael and his father were never handcuffed or fingerprinted until months later after the video was leaked to the public. 

Some, including the defense attorneys and the Brunswick Police Department, which took two months to arrest the defendants after a storm of public outcry, will attempt to cast doubts on these facts. 

But the facts show that Travis McMichael hunted down and killed Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood. He didn’t even have the human decency to attempt to revive Amaud but instead stood over him as if he were a deer. 

People of the jury, we have arrived. Our journey is done. Welcome to the kingdom of truth, and may the truth set Ahmaud’s soul and Ahmaud’s parents’ tortured and broken hearts free!

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Walter Hart

Walter Hart is a writer incarcerated in Corcoran, Calif.