The shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery has angered people throughout the state of Georgia and the country. Now, voters in the Peach State realize they have the power to influence policing in the area where Arbery was killed.
In June state lawmakers will vote to have Senate Bill 504 on the ballot in November, which will allow Georgia voters to vote on disbanding the Glynn County Police Department — the department that botched the Ahmaud Abery case from the start. The department would instead merge with the county sheriff’s office.
Senate Bill 504 was introduced by Republican south Georgia state Senator Bill Ligon. According to WJCL, Ligion said, “I would be willing to bet that this bill is going to pass the senate and the house with flying colors in view of what just happened (with Arbery).”
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He also stressed the importance of local law enforcement under an elected office and how that could transform police accountability.
“Can you imagine someone running for sheriff on a platform: ‘Well I want to; I’m not going to cooperate with investigations from outside law enforcement’? To have that sort of culture as part of your legacy or your record? You’re not going to be re-elected,” he said.
Brunswick and Waycross District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who was the first DA on the Arbery case, is not happy about the bill. According to WJCL, she said “her office has no arresting powers and did not impede investigators before her recusal from the case.”
Organizations like Color of Change are demanding that both Johnson and George E. Barnill, the second DA assigned the case who also recused himself, step down.
Arbery, lived in Brunswick, Ga., and was unarmed when he went for a jog near his home. Two white men — Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34 — chased him in a pickup truck and gunned him down. The older McMichael is a former police officer and investigator, who at one time worked in the Glynn County district attorney’s office with Johnson and Barnhill.
The McMichaels were arrested only after the video of the shooting leaked on social media showing the fatal assault. They have since been charged with felony murder.
(Photo by B.A. Van Sise/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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