Fallout from the Feb. 23 slaying of a Brunswick man is starting to impact Liberty County now that Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden has been assigned the case.
Calls to the DA's office in Hinesville have reportedly been so numerous it's caused problems for the network.
The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and Liberty County chamber of Commerce have been inundated with calls from folks angry about the perceived lack of justice in the Ahmaud Arbery case, according to posts on their Facebook pages.
It prompted both entities to issue the following statement Thursday morning:
“We have received dozens of calls about the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery, which occurred in Brunswick, GA, which is Glynn County, not Liberty County. The District Attorney of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, which happens to have an office in Hinesville, GA (Liberty County) is handling the investigation. The DA's phone number is 912.876.4151 or 912.876.4154.”
Thursday, during the United Ministerial Alliance's observance of National Day of Prayer in Hinesville, local pastors prayed for justice for Arbery and his family, and for Durden.
A peaceful rally was held Tuesday, May 5 in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick where Avery was shot and killed Feb. 23.
The case has gained national attention especially after a video of the shooting was leaked to the public via You Tube earlier this week.
NAACP Brunswick Chapter President John Perry said he was aware for some time now that video of the shooting existed. But he admitted he didn’t see the video until it was leaked online.
“But I was under the understanding that it would not be released to the public because they didn’t want to jeopardize the case in any way,” he said. “Literally I began to cry. To see this young man…we have a scene that is staged. An ambush. Like it’s a man hunt. He (Arbery) is clearly in fear for his life and is fighting for his life. It brought tears to my eyes. Because I immediately began to think this could have been my son. No human being should find themselves in that type of situation where they fear for their life and have to fight to stay alive. You were able to see the brutal manner in which they killed this young man. “
Perry said the video propelled the case to the forefront.
“The time frame that it has taken for this case to be looked at is outright appalling,” Perry said. “We are upset at the reality that it took this long to get any meaningful attention to this case. Something should have been done by now. Definitely, an arrest should have been made.”
Perry said they are asking for the removal of the police chief John Powell, who was in charge at the time of the shooting.
“In light of the fact that this tape came out…he didn’t make any arrests and this was not turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation,” Perry noted. “That is enough negligence to say that we can’t trust his leadership. For that reason, he needs to be terminated immediately and we need a police chief we can trust.”
Glynn County Sheriff Neil Jump attended the rally and said the community needs to support the Arbery family.
“I wanted to be there,” Jump said. “As the sheriff I felt I needed to be there for everybody involved and it was the right thing to do. When I first saw the video, it was disturbing and if I were the parents of the young man, I would be wanting answers. It is sad to say but the justice system moves slow, but it gets the job done. And I asked the people of Glynn County, as I did yesterday, to stand tall, support the Arbery family and continue to keep Glynn County the good community that we have.”
He went on to say, “I’m not expressing anger, I am expressing concern for the family this occurred to. This has been bad for everybody in Glynn County. I did what I thought was right. To be there with the people that have the Constitutional right to get out and voice their opinion. That is what a sheriff should do. Stand with the people they represent. All I ask is for our marches and our protests to be orderly and conducted in a fashion that these groups anticipate their members should do.”
Jump added that since the release of the video a new gag order was issued prohibit any further discussion on the case. He pointed out however, that the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office is not the primary agency that has worked the case.
On April 13 the case was turned over to Durden, who plans to present the case before the Glynn County Grand Jury as soon as they can reconvene.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Durden requested their agency investigate the shooting on May 5. The GBI issued a release saying it is looking into the shooting as well as a request from the Glynn County Police Department to investigate alleged threats against GCPD, individuals involved in the active investigation, and the release of the video related to Arbery’s death.
“These investigations are all active and ongoing,” the release noted. “If anyone has information related to these cases, please contact the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).”
Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted about the case saying, “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”
NBA star LeBron James also tweeted, “"We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!"
Governor Brian Kemp tweeted, “Director Reynolds has offered resources & manpower to D.A. Durden to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death of #AhmaudArbery. Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.”
Tomorrow (May 8) would have been Arbery's Birthday. The family is asking people who support justice for Ahmaud to run or walk 2.23 miles tomorrow.