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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

President Biden said South Africa has turned down vaccine doses. But the issue is more complicated than that.

President Biden said South Africa has turned down vaccine doses. But the issue is more complicated than that.

A nurse prepares a dose of the coronavirus vaccine Nov. 29 in South Africa as the new omicron variant spreads. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

President Biden on Monday rebutted criticism that the United States is hoarding doses of coronavirus vaccines at the expense of South Africa and other middle- and low-income countries, pointing to the fact that South Africa has turned down additional doses in recent days.

But the story of vaccines in Africa is far more complicated than a matter of supply — a reality that became evident as vaccine availability emerged as a flash point in the days after a potentially dangerous new virus variant, dubbed omicron, was identified in southern Africa.

That story includes issues of access, fragile health-care systems and the difficulty of making sure Pfizer’s vaccine remains ultracold.

South Africa faces challenges that mirror many of those that plagued the United States in the early days of its vaccination campaign and even today. South Africa did not begin its vaccination efforts until May, six months after the United States and other Western countries. And it has struggled to get doses to hard-to-reach populations and faced significant vaccine hesitancy, much like the United States and several European countries.

“Why should we be surprised that we need to do vaccine education and behavioral interventions in South Africa when it took us a pretty heavy lift?” said Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. “We are not done with that job in the U.S.”

The U.S. government has “all these people who understand these end-to-end solutions — from increasing supply to actually delivering vaccine — and they are nowhere to be found” in Africa, Omer said.

Experts have said the omicron variant, which has now been confirmed in numerous countries, is the predictable outcome of vast vaccine inequity. They have called on the United States, European countries and global bodies such as the World Health Organization to do more to get doses shipped to low- and middle-income countries. As long as large numbers of people remain unvaccinated, experts argue, the coronavirus has opportunities to mutate and continue spreading. It remains unclear where the omicron variant originated.

On Nov. 28, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned countries that imposed travel bans on his country and its neighbors over the omicron variant. (Reuters)

Drugmaker Pfizer said five of the eight countries included in a travel ban imposed by the United States — Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe — have asked the company in the last several months to pause shipments because of challenges with vaccine uptake.

The company said it expects by the end of the year to ship 43 million doses to the eight southern African countries covered by the U.S. travel ban.

“Given that we have sufficient stock on hand in the country, it doesn’t make sense to receive any more orders, so we have pushed back some of those orders into the early part of next year. We are well-stocked for the moment,” said Ron Whelan, who heads the covid-19 task team at health insurer Discovery Ltd., which has been involved in the rollout of vaccine doses in South Africa. Discovery worked alongside the South African government to secure vaccine doses and set up a distribution system across the country.

Whelan said South Africa’s vaccination program peaked at about 211,000 vaccinations a day. By September, the national vaccination rate had slowed to about 110,000 per day.

He pointed to three factors: significant vaccine hesitancy, apathy and structural barriers, which include people being unable to afford to travel to vaccine sites. He also noted that South Africa’s vaccination program started six months after those in Western countries, which began vaccinating people shortly after Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines were authorized in December 2020.

“I can tell you it was extremely hard to get access to vaccines especially when you had countries like Canada and the U.S. and various other players ordering vaccines well in advance and in quantities three to four times more than they required,” Whelan said.

The White House said Monday that several federal agencies are working with African experts and institutions to provide resources and technical and financial support in the region to expand vaccine access. It said it has provided more than $273 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development to southern African countries, including nearly $12 million to deliver and distribute vaccine doses.

Just five African countries — fewer than 10 percent of the total on the continent — are projected to reach the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of their populations, unless the pace of vaccinations accelerates. Africa has fully vaccinated 77 million people, or just 6 percent of its population.

Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, and more than 40 million Americans have received a booster shot, according to The Washington Post’s vaccination tracker. In South Africa, about 35 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the South African Department of Health, more than in most African nations. Just 3 percent of Malawi’s population, for instance, has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

The number of Americans who have received a booster shot exceeds the number of people who have gotten a single vaccine dose in the eight African countries combined on the U.S. travel ban, according to an analysis published Monday by Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. About 30 million people total across Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe have received at least one dose, according to the analysis.

Higher-income countries have committed to donate 1.98 billion doses around the world; the United States has pledged more than half of those doses — 1.1 billion. About 20 percent of those doses have been delivered.

Global health experts said a confluence of factors, including sometimes unpredictable deliveries from vaccine manufacturers and limited health-care capacity, have created challenges in ensuring doses make it into arms. Many countries, including South Africa, also went several months without receiving any doses and then received millions at once, overwhelming health-care systems.

In the United States, the Trump administration established Operation Warp Speed to not only help manufacture millions of vaccine doses, but also to help quickly distribute those doses on an unprecedented scale. That effort faced significant challenges during the first weeks of the U.S. vaccination rollout, even as the Defense Department and Department of Health and Human Services worked to harness the military’s logistical infrastructure.

“There’s a reason that Operation Warp Speed didn’t just place an order with Pfizer and get vaccines. There was a whole infrastructure to mass-develop vaccines, expand vaccine production and work out some of the logistics around delivery,” said Zain Rizvi, research director at Public Citizen.

“The stat that always gets me is the Pfizer vaccine was authorized Dec. 11. … Imagine if on Dec. 11 last year, the U.S. government said we’re launching Warp Speed for the world,” Rizvi added.

Many African countries lack proper storage for vaccines such as Pfizer’s, which needs to be stored at ultracold temperatures. With some vaccine donations close to their expiration dates, some countries feel they will not have enough time to distribute and safely administer them, experts say. Whelan said that while South Africa has sufficient storage for vaccines such as Pfizer’s, most countries in Africa lack the resources.

“Supply remains important, but it’s now time to shift attention to delivery of doses,” said Amanda Glassman, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “It would be great to have more visibility on how many vaccines do we have right now and what are we doing to get them out there and are we using all possible strategies to get them out there.”

Africa, the second-largest continent by size, consists of 54 countries, each with its own set of challenges in obtaining and distributing vaccine doses. While South Africa has struggled with hesitancy, among other issues, other countries have distributed their doses fairly quickly and have asked for more supply. In Botswana, national surveys showed there was a 76 percent acceptance rate of vaccines, Malebogo Kebabonye, director of health services at Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, told the World Health Organization.

“Vaccine distribution and vaccine acceptance arguments are weaponized against the idea of expanding supply,” Rizvi said. “You don’t say Canada doesn’t deserve vaccines because there are hesitancy challenges in the U.S., but somehow it’s acceptable to do that on the African continent.”

Sunday, November 28, 2021

First European case of new Covid variant detected in Belgium Variant found in unvaccinated woman with no links to southern Africa, as UK bans flights from six countries

First European case of new Covid variant detected in Belgium

Variant found in unvaccinated woman with no links to southern Africa, as UK bans flights from six countries

Central Brussels
Grand Place in Brussels. Belgium recorded a case of the new variant in a woman who had recently travelled from Egypt via Turkey. Photograph: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

The first European case of the new B.1.1.529 variant has been detected in Belgium, as the UK imposed new restrictions on travel from South Africa and five other nearby countries because of the risk that vaccines may not protect against it.

Just hours after the UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, warned it was highly likely the new variant has spread further than where it was first discovered in South Africa, Belgium recorded a case in a woman who had recently travelled from Egypt via Turkey.

The case was identified in an unvaccinated young adult woman who developed mild flu-like symptoms 11 days after travelling and had no links with South Africaor other countries in southern Africa.

The identification of the variant in Europe raises questions about whether the restrictions on travel from six African countries will be enough to stop the variant reaching the UK.

Javid said on Friday that he was “concerned this new variant may pose substantial risk to public health” because of the fear it may evade current vaccines.

He said there were no known cases yet in the UK, but precautions were being taken because current vaccines “may be less effective against it” and it may be more transmissible than other variants. 

New Covid variant highly likely to have spread beyond South Africa, says Sajid Javid – video
New Covid variant highly likely to have spread beyond South Africa, says Sajid Javid – video

Flights from six countries – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – have been temporarily banned from midday on Friday until hotel quarantine is set up again. The accommodation costs £2,285 for one adult.

From 4am on Sunday, UK and Irish nationals arriving from those countries will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine for 10 days. Non-UK/Irish nationals will be banned from entry.

Any UK nationals who arrive from those countries before Sunday, or who have arrived in the last 10 days, must get day two and day eight PCR tests even if they are vaccinated, and isolate at home along with the rest of the household. NHS test and trace will be contacting any travellers in this category and asking them to get PCR tests and undergo isolation.

Javid said the government would not do anything to help British nationals get back from South Africa before midday and argued that the best thing for anyone who was now on one of the red list countries was to make their own way back and enter hotel quarantine from Sunday.

He acknowledged that thousands of tourists and other travellers were likely to be hit by the restricitions, involving paying many thousands of pounds in hotel quarantine bills.

“I understand whether it’s sports teams or the thousands of British tourists and others that currently find themselves in South Africa, Botswana and these countries, this is very difficult news, but I hope they will understand,” he said.

Those who cannot pay may be eligible for hardship arrangements, which include repayment plans or fee waivers in “exceptionally limited circumstances”.

The rules apply to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as all the devolved nations are aligning on the policies.

Javid said it was a “fast-moving situation and there remains a high degree of uncertainty”. He urged everyone to get their Covid vaccine booster shots as soon as possible.

The health secretary said there were “very live” discussions over the prospect of adding further countries to the travel red list.

He was pressed on whether further public health measures – such as mandatory masking in public places and a return to social distancing – were necessary, but insisted they was not needed for now.

“The plan A, the policies that we put in place, they remain the policies that I think we need at this time,” he said. “[The questioner] won’t be surprised to know we do keep this under review and if we need to go further, we will.”

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Saturday, November 27, 2021

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‘A core threat to our democracy’: threat of political violence growing across US | Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | The Guardian

‘A core threat to our democracy’: threat of political violence growing across US

Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted Republican house minority leader Kevin McCarthy for failing to condemn Gosar’s tweet.
The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted Republican house minority leader Kevin McCarthy for failing to condemn Paul Gosar’s tweet. Photograph: Reuters

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood on the House floor and implored her colleagues to hold Paul Gosar accountable for sharing an altered anime video showing him killing her and attacking Joe Biden.

“Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her speech last week. “And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.”

House Republicans heard Ocasio-Cortez’s impassioned plea and responded with a collective shrug. All but three Republican members voted against censuring Gosar and stripping him of his committee assignments, while every House Democrat supported the resolution.

The Gosar incident served as the latest data point in an alarming trend in American politics. In a year that began with a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, lawmakers have seen a sharp rise in the number of threats against them. Republicans’ muted response to Gosar’s behavior has intensified fears about the possibility of more political violence in America in the months to come.

Jackie Speier, the Democratic congresswoman who spearheaded the effort to censure Gosar, warned that Republicans’ refusal to hold him accountable could have dangerous repercussions.

“If you are silent about a member of Congress wanting to murder another member of Congress, even in a ‘cartoon’, you are inciting violence,” Speier told the Guardian. “And if you incite violence, it begets violence.”

That cycle is already playing out in the halls of Congress. The US Capitol police reported earlier this year that the agency had seen a 107% increase in threats against members compared with 2020. The USCP chief, Tom Manger, has said he expects the total number of threats against members to surpass 9,000 this year, compared with 3,939 such threats in 2017.

Some of those threats have been on vivid display in the past month. In addition to Gosar’s violent video, the 13 House Republicans who voted in support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier month have received threatening messages.

Representative Fred Upton of Michigan publicly shared one such message, in which a man called the Republican congressman a “fucking piece of shit traitor”. “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your fucking family dies,” the man said in the message.

And those kinds of threats are not reserved solely for members of Congress. Election workers and school board members also say they are receiving more violent messages. According to an April survey commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly one in three election officials are concerned about their safety while on the job.

Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel at the government watchdog group Common Cause, described such violent tactics as “a core threat to our democracy”.

“The threat of violence is really to intimidate people from doing their jobs and upholding their oath of office,” Spaulding said. “When you start having these violent episodes enter the system, it is totally counter to the way that we are supposed to engage in open and fair debate about policy issues in this country.”

There are already signs that fears over personal safety are pushing lawmakers out of office. When the Republican congressman Anthony Gonzalez announced in September that he would not seek re-election, he said his vote to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection had affected the lives of his family members.

Gonzalez told the New York Times that, at one point earlier this year, unformed police officers had to escort him and his family through the Cleveland airport because of security concerns.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” Gonzalez said.

Even though threats are affecting their own caucus members, House Republicans rejected the opportunity to send a message by voting to censure Gosar. Instead, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, attacked the censure resolution as a Democratic “abuse of power” and suggested he would award Gosar with “better committee assignments” whenever Republicans regain control of the chamber.

“He’s got a number of radical extremists in his caucus that are very effective communicators to the right fringe, and he can’t really rein them in because reining them in means they will attack him,” Speier said. “You might as well put a brass ring in Kevin McCarthy’s nose because they’re pulling him around.”

Dr Joanne Freeman, a Yale history professor and author of The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, warned that McCarthy’s response to Gosar’s behavior may encourage similar incidents in the future.

After all, there are other historical examples of lawmakers being rewarded for violent behavior, Freeman noted. After Congressman Preston Brooks attackedSenator Charles Sumner with a cane over his anti-slavery views in 1856, he resigned from the House but was then quickly re-elected by South Carolina voters.

“He’s going to be rewarded for it in some ways, and because of that, there will be others that follow in that model,” Freeman said. “It’s a moment that shows how far party is above government and above institutions of government and above institutional stability.”

While acknowledging the possibility of future violence within Congress, Freeman added that the Gosar incident could also provide an opportunity for a course correction in political discourse.

“We’re in a moment of extreme contingency, and indeed things might become much worse,” Freeman said. “But during that kind of moment of extreme contingency where anything can happen, those are also moments where it’s possible to make positive change.”

For Speier, Gosar’s behavior served as a reminder of how far some of her colleagues have strayed from their duties to constituents. The California congresswoman, who announced her retirement last week, urged fellow members to focus on advancing policy rather than spewing violent rhetoric to raise money and rack up retweets.

“I love this institution. It’s such a privilege to serve,” Speier said. “We’re given the opportunity to fashion legislation to make lives better for the American people. And that’s what we should be doing.”

‘A core threat to our democracy’: threat of political violence growing across US | Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | The Guardian

Friday, November 26, 2021

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Ilhan Omar: Boebert is a ‘buffoon’ and ‘bigot’ for ‘made up’ anti-Muslim story ‘Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout,’ says Omar after Boebert claims to have joked about terrorism when sharing elevator

Ilhan Omar: Boebert is a ‘buffoon’ and ‘bigot’ for ‘made up’ anti-Muslim story

‘Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout,’ says Omar after Boebert claims to have joked about terrorism when sharing elevator

Ilhan Omar at Boom Island Park, Minneapolis, in September.
Ilhan Omar at Boom Island Park, Minneapolis, in September. Photograph: Nikolas Liepins/REX/Shutterstock

The Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar called the Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert a buffoon, a bigot and a liar, for claiming to have joked about terrorism when sharing an elevator in Congress.

“Fact,” Omar wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “This buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.

“Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny and shouldn’t be normalised. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.”

One of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Omar is also a member of a prominent “Squad” of House progressives.

Boebert is a first-term far-right Trump ally who consistently seeks controversy. Her connections to the deadly attack on the Capitol on 6 January remain under investigation.

She made the comments about Omar in her home district over the Thanksgiving break.

“Actually I have an Ilhan story for you,” Boebert told an audience, to laughter. “So, the other night on the House floor was not my first ‘Jihad Squad’ moment.

“So I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers. You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar.

“And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.’

The audience laughs and applauds.

“We only had one floor to go,” Boebert continues. “I said, ‘Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided show up for work today.’”

The audience whoops and applauds again.

“Don’t worry,” said Boebert, “it’s just her staffers on Twitter that talk for her, she’s she’s not tough in person. So … there’s a little bit of interactions with these folks.”

The remarks raised calls for Boebert to face formal censure – as recently didPaul Gosar of Arizona, for tweeting a video which depicted him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, another prominent progressive, and threatening Joe Biden.

Boebert’s reference to “the other night on the House floor” was to remarks in support of Gosar in which she called Omar “the Jihad Squad member from Minnesota” and repeated rightwing conspiracy theories about her.

In response to those remarks, Omar called Boebert an “insurrectionist who sleeps with a pervert”, a reference to Boebert’s husband, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to public indecency and lewd exposure and spent time in jail. Omar also said Boebert “shamefully defecates and defiles the House”.

On Thursday, Omar retweeted support from another member of the “Squad”, Cory Bush of Missouri.

“Capitol Hill is a toxic work environment for Muslim members and staff,” Bush wrote, “when bigots routinely spew racist, Islamophobic vitriol unchecked and with no consequence.

“Congresswoman Omar, we love you, and we pray for your well-being and protection from this despicable abuse.”

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

How a Prosecutor Addressed a Mostly White Jury and Won a Conviction in the Arbery Case Linda Dunikoski, a prosecutor brought in from the Atlanta area, struck a careful tone in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence.

How a Prosecutor Addressed a Mostly White Jury and Won a Conviction in the Arbery Case

“Linda Dunikoski, a prosecutor brought in from the Atlanta area, struck a careful tone in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence.

Linda Dunikoski has been a senior assistant district attorney in Cobb County since 2019.
Pool photo by Elijah Nouvelage

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The lawyer was from out of town, a prosecutor who had spent the bulk of her career in a large, liberal city, and she had been brought in to try the biggest case of her career: the murder of a Black man on a sunny afternoon by three white men just outside a small city pinned to the South Georgia coastline.

Despite the evidence of racism she had at her disposal, Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, stunned some legal observers by largely avoiding race during the trial, choosing instead to hew closely to the details of how the three men had chased the Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, through their neighborhood.

The risks went beyond her career and a single trial. Failure to convict in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence would reverberate well outside Glynn County, Ga. For some, it would be a referendum on a country that appeared to have made tentative steps last summer toward confronting racism, only to devolve into deeper divisions.

On Wednesday, Ms. Dunikoski’s strategy was vindicated when the jury found the three men guilty of murder and other charges after deliberating for roughly a day. The convicted men — Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — are now facing life sentences in prison. They are also facing trial in February on separate federal hate-crime charges.

Kevin Gough, the lawyer who represented Mr. Bryan, credited Ms. Dunikoski with threading the most difficult of needles. She mentioned a racial motive just once during the three-week trial, in her closing argument: The men, she said, had attacked Mr. Arbery “because he was a Black man running down the street.”

“She found a clever way of bringing the issue up that wouldn’t be offensive to the right-leaning members of the jury,” he said. “I think you can see from the verdict that Dunikoski made the right call.”

Pool photo by Sean Rayford

A number of legal experts, in the moment, thought Ms. Dunikoski’s strategy to be a risky one. But many in Brunswick thought that she had proved savvy about what tone to strike in a Deep South community where, they said, race doesn’t have to be referenced explicitly for everyone to understand the implications.

Cedric King, a Black local businessman, said that the evidence against the defendants, particularly the video of Mr. Arbery’s murder, had been strong enough to stand on its own.

“Anybody with warm blood running through their veins that witnessed the video and knew the context around what transpired knew that it was wrong,” Mr. King said.

The case, from the beginning, echoed painful themes in the Deep South. The murder of a Black man by white men carrying guns, presented to a jury that included just one Black person. The rest were white. The jury had been put in place over the protests of Ms. Dunikoski, who had tried unsuccessfully to prevent potential Black jurors from being removed during the selection process by the defense lawyers. It was also a painful moment for Glynn County, a majority-white county that remains marked by the legacy of segregation.

Its county seat, Brunswick, had earned accolades, decades ago, for the way its Black and white leaders worked together to integrate schools and public facilities. But the selection of such a racially lopsided jury had sparked anger and mistrust in a county where more than one in four residents is Black. Neighboring Brunswick are four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles, a popular tourism destination that is also home to some of the wealthiest people in the country.

Before the trial Ms. Dunikoski, who is 54 and declined to be interviewed, had spent her career largely in the Atlanta metropolitan area, establishing a reputation as a tough-minded prosecutor going after murderers, gang members and sex offenders. By the end of the trial, she had won the trust of the Arbery family so deeply that they came to call her Auntie Linda.

The case took a tortuous route before landing in Ms. Dunikowski’s lap. Two local district attorney’s offices handled the case to begin with, but both eventually removed themselves from it, citing conflicts of interest; one of the former prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, has been criminally indicted over her handling of the case. It was in the hands of a third D.A.’s office before being passed to the more resource-rich Cobb County, where Ms. Dunikoski has worked since 2019.

Before joining the Cobb County office, Ms. Dunikoski had spent more than 17 years as a prosecutor in Fulton County, where one of her highest-profile cases was the trial of a group of Atlanta Public Schools teachers who were found guilty in 2015 of racketeering and other charges for altering students’ standardized test scores. Critics said the prosecutors had offered up a group of mostly Black educators as scapegoats for a school district that had much deeper systemic problems.

In 2009, according to The Associated Press, Ms. Dunikoski was jailed by a judge for failing to pay a $100 fine after the judge had cited her for contempt. The chief county prosecutor at the time reportedly engaged in a shouting match with the judge, arguing that he had unjustly harmed the reputation of an honest lawyer.

Observers said Ms. Dunikoski had succeeded in the trial over Mr. Arbery’s murder by finessing a difficult case with the right tone.

Nicole Craine for The New York Times

She presented her case to the jury with a style that was at times matter-of-fact and at times intimate and colloquial, like a strict high school principal who occasionally offers students a flash of her unguarded self. At some moments, she twisted her body into exaggerated, matador-like poses as she described the way she believed Mr. Arbery, in the moment he was shot, had tried to defend himself.

Understand the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

The shooting. On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed after being chased by three white men while jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga. The slaying of Mr. Arbery was captured in a graphic video that was widely viewed by the public.

She led the jury through a thicket of detailed legal points as she pushed back against the defense’s argument that the three white men had pursued Mr. Arbery legally, under a state citizen’s arrest law that has since been largely gutted. And she sought to dismantle the idea that the man who pulled the trigger, Travis McMichael, had done so in self-defense.

In her rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument — the last word before jurors were sent off to decide the fate of thee three men — Ms. Dunikoski made an appeal to common sense, offering up a general rule of life that she said the defendants had violated: “Don’t go looking for trouble.”

She had already told them that Mr. Arbery was killed because he was Black. Now she was telling them that the case wasn’t about whether the men were “good or bad people.” Rather, she said, it was “about holding people accountable and responsible for their actions.”

On Wednesday, as the jury deliberated, Mr. Arbery’s aunt, Theawanza Brooks, fretted over the fact that they did not have a T-shirt for Ms. Dunikoski with Mr. Arbery’s name on it. When Ms. Dunikoski briefly entered a room in the courthouse, where family members had been watching a video feed of the proceedings, another aunt cried out, “Linda, girl, you killed it!”

Soon after the verdict was broadcast outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Wednesday, Ms. Dunikoski was hailed as a hero by the crowd. At the mention of her name, they cheered, “Thank you, Linda!” Charlie Bailey, a Democratic candidate for Georgia attorney general, responded to the verdict by texting, “Amen,” to his friends.

“It wasn’t too long ago in Georgia that three white men could kill a Black man and did not stand a very good chance of being held to account by an all white jury,” said Mr. Bailey, who is white and worked with Ms. Dunikoski in the Fulton County prosecutor’s office. “I’m proud of where I’m from, but part of that is also not ignoring the sins of our forefathers and where that leaves us today.”

Shortly after the verdict, Ms. Dunikoski spoke to a thrilled and relieved crowd outside the courthouse, with Mr. Arbery’s parents at her side. Her tone, once again, was direct. “The verdict today was a verdict based on the facts, based on the evidence,” she said. “And that was our goal — was to bring that to the jury, so they could do the right thing.”

Tariro Mzezewa contributed reporting from Brunswick, Ga.“

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system | Race | The Guardian

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system

The shooting of a man who was ‘running while Black’ has prompted calls for racial justice in the US

Annie Polite, 87, leads a protest march outside the Glynn county courthouse during the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Annie Polite, 87, leads a protest march outside the Glynn county courthouse during the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Photograph: Stephen B Morton/AP

For many observers, the high-profile case of the three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was out jogging, revealed the racist ways the American legal system has been designed to treat Black people differently.

Arbery was killed in February 2020 in the coastal town of Satilla Shores, Georgia. None of the men involved were charged until eyewitness footage was made public months later, shortly before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, prompting widespread protests.

Three white men, Gregory McMichael, 67, his 35-year-old son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, pursued Arbery, claiming they suspected his involvement in a series of burglaries in the neighborhood. The McMichaels, both carrying firearms, attempted to corner Arbery in a roadway using their truck before the younger McMichael fired three times with a shotgun.

Key moments from the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial – video report
Key moments from the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial – video report

The men were charged with murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, counts to which they all pleaded not guilty.

A court has now found all three guilty of murder.

Here are some of the ways the trial touched on race and racism in the US, echoing America’s segregated past as well as modern-day prejudice.

Black people face danger for doing ordinary things

Arbery’s killing highlighted the dangers that Black Americans can face doing entirely ordinary things that white people can perceive as a threat. They can range from bird watching, to showing a house for sale to swimming.

Arbery, a former high school football standout, loved to run. On 23 February last year, he was unarmed and out jogging through his neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was tracked by the McMichaels and Bryan before being gunned down.

Relying on a defunct civil war-era law that deputizes citizens to police the movements of Black bodies and carry out citizen’s arrests of suspected criminals, the white men argued that they were acting in self-defense. And they believe they were legally justified in pursuing Arbery because they thought he matched the description of a burglary suspect.

Arbery’s death has reaffirmed a concern among many Black runners that they will be racially profiled or attacked while running in the United States. The multitude of racist experiences of “running while Black” has prompted runners to take precautionary measures such as wearing bright colors to appear non-threatening and running during daylight hours.

Yet Arbery’s white T-shirt, his habit of waving at some neighbors as he passed, and his decision to go jogging in the middle of the day did not protect him.

A reluctance to prosecute

In the weeks and months after Arbery’s killing, Glynn county law enforcement officials either ignored the case or failed to thoroughly investigate his death. In one instance, a district attorney refused to allow police officers to make arrests.

Jackie Johnson, the Glynn county district attorney, barred police officers who responded to the shooting from arresting the McMichaels, saying that Greg McMichael had worked as an investigator in her office for 20 years before retiring in 2019.

“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them,” Allen Booker, the Glynn county district 5 commissioner, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”

Johnson recused herself from the case four days after Arbery’s killing.

George Barnhill, the Waycross district attorney, took over. Less than 24 hours after seeing the video and evidence compiled by the police, Barnhill decided not to charge the McMichaels, citing insufficient evidence, according to Glynn county commissioner Peter Murphy.

On 2 April, Barnhill emailed law enforcement authorities, saying “Arbery’s mental health records and prior convictions help explain his apparent aggressive nature and his possible thought pattern to attack an armed man.”

Less than a week later, Barnhill recused himself because his son worked on a case involving Arbery while working in Johnson’s office. The connection was only discovered when Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s mother, found the link between Barnhill’s son and her own on Facebook and raised it with his office.

Tom Durden, the district attorney in nearby Hinesville then took the case on 13 April, making little progress for more than three weeks until the graphic video of Arbery’s killing emerged on 5 May. The video prompted swift outcry and Durden notified the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The McMichaels were arrested two days later and on 11 May, the Cobb county district attorney and the case’s fourth prosecutor, Joyette M Holmes, took over the case. Holmes is one of only seven black district attorneys in Georgia.

In September, Johnson was indicted on charges of misconduct for allegedly using her position to protect the McMichaels. 

According to evidence introduced in pre-trial hearings, Greg called Johnson soon after the shooting and left her a voicemail, saying, “Jackie this is Greg. Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right now.”

An almost all-white jury

In November, a nearly all-white jury was selected after defense attorneys eliminated almost all Black jurors from the pool.

Throughout a jury selection period that lasted 11 days, lawyers were given a pool of 48 potential jurors, 12 of whom were Black. However, defense lawyers struck all but one of them from the final jury, leaving 11 white members and one Black member.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough previously said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the case’s jury selection pool lacked “bubbas or Joe six-packs”, referring to white men over 40 without a college degree.

Prosecutors urged Judge Timothy Walmsley to reverse the unseating of eight Black potential jurors, whom they argue had been deliberately targeted over race. Despite Walmsley’s acknowledgment of the “intentional discrimination”, he said he was limited by the supreme court precedent and said that the defense presented justifiable reasons to strike the Black potential jurors that were unrelated to race.

Attacking civil rights leaders

Gough also tried unsuccessfully to remove prominent civil rights leaders and Black pastors, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, from the courtroom, arguing that their presence was intimidating and could influence the jury.

Gough told the judge, “We don’t want any more Black pastors in here” and later in the trial compared his clients’ treatment to a “public lynching” in language that seemed designed to provoke racial tensions.

During a prayer vigil held outside the Glynn county courthouse earlier this month by Sharpton, Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Arbery family, stressed the acute need for racial justice for Black communities.

“What happens here in Brunswick, Georgia, in the trial in the killers of Ahmaud Arbery, is going to be a proclamation not only to Georgia, not only to America, but to the world, how far we have come to get equal justice in America for marginalized Black people,” he said."

How the killing of Ahmaud Arbery further exposes America’s broken and racist legal system | Race | The Guardian