May 13, 2020

Durbin, Duckworth join lawmakers seeking federal Arbery death investigation

Source: WAND


A call for a federal investigation into the death of Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery includes Illinois lawmakers.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) signed a letter involving over 80 House and Senate colleagues, in which lawmakers asked for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to being a criminal civil rights investigation. They also asked for an independent organization into how local authorities handled the case.

A father and son, identified as Gregory and Travis McMichael, face aggravated battery and felony murder charges in connection to Arbery's death. A video of the moments before Arbery's Feb. 23 death circulated and became viral online, leading to the arrest of the McMichaels.

In the letter, lawmakers called it "deeply disturbing" that "no significant actions were taken" until the public release of the video, which they said the prosecuting attorney's office possessed for months.

“Make no mistake, there cannot be true justice in this case, for in a just America, Mr. Arbery would still be alive,” the lawmakers said. “However, his family and this nation demand accountability for Mr. Arbery’s death. We are encouraged by the initial steps taken by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in this case and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s recent call for a federal investigation. The recent announcement by the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia that they would begin assessing evidence of this crime is an encouraging step forward in a case where substantial actions have been delayed.”

Lawmakers said they "strongly support" a federal investigation.

“Because Georgia does not have a law prohibiting or acknowledging bias-based crimes, the DOJ Civil Rights Division is uniquely suited to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime, or another violation of federal civil rights law," the letter said. "DOJ must uphold its duty to conduct oversight of misconduct by law enforcement and local authorities and ensure that every community, particularly those communities where incidents like these occur with impunity, are protected from blatant dismissal and violations of their civil rights. We can and must hold accountable those involved in any wrongdoing.”

By:  Anthony Watt