Washington, D.C., May 7, 2020 – Today, Brady echoes the calls from the family and community of Ahmaud Arbery for justice for his murder. Arbery, who was Black, was murdered on February 23, 2020, while on a recreational run in Brunswick, Georgia, when two individuals, who are white, actively pursued Arbery, assaulted him, and shot him three separate times as he struggled for his life. Neither man has been charged in Arbery’s murder.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“A twenty-five-year-old American is dead. This was murder. And, we must be clear: he was murdered due to the color of his skin.
Ahmaud Arbery’s death should not have occurred. We say often that, unfortunately, where you live in America determines if you live, but we know that for people of color, our nation’s failure to address systemic racism and gun violence means that danger follows you wherever you go. For Ahmaud Arbery, that meant that a simple Sunday run cost him his life, as armed men tracked him, assaulted him, and ultimately murdered him.
Arbery’s murder clearly shows how our nation’s predilection for vigilante justice and armed confrontation, crystalized in castle doctrine policies and ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws such as Georgia’s, are a threat to Black and Brown lives. The genesis of these gun lobby-pushed and ALEC- crafted laws is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Amendment that encourages vigilantism, a deadly frame of mind that endangers Black and Brown lives given our nation’s well documented and present racism and criminalization of people of color and their existence. Stand Your Ground laws are shown to increase firearm homicides, do not prevent crime, and, in instances where a Black victim is murdered by a white shooter, that shooting is more likely to be deemed “justified.”
Stand Your Ground laws do not promote public safety, instead they victimize communities of color and provide a legal defense for murder, creating a state-sanctioned shield for the criminalization of Black bodies and lives. We cannot accept a system that simultaneously facilitates violence that disproportionately impacts people of color and then defends the perpetrators of that violence.
Attention to this case has steadily grown in the nine weeks since Ahmaud Arbery was murdered, and the question that must be answered is why have charges not been made against the two men who chased and shot Ahmaud Arbery? We are grateful for the tireless work of Arbery’s family and community, and for local grassroots organizations and individuals who have relentlessly asked this question and are demanding justice.
Brady joins with Arbery’s family and community in calling for #JusticeforAhmaudArbery. The Second Amendment does not confer a right to decide that someone running through your neighborhood deserves to die. Ahmaud Arbery had the right to go on a run. He should not have been shot and killed for exercising his right to live. The predation of Black bodies, by armed citizens and our justice system, must end.”
Brady Legal Constitutional Counsel Kelly Sampson shared:
“As a Black woman, it is impossible to see yet another Black person murdered for living while black. As a lifelong runner, who has sometimes recruited white friends to escort me on runs for my own protection, this hits especially close to home.
This is what racism and vigilantism mean for Black and Brown Americans. Laws such as Georgia’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law are written to protect violence. A license to kill first and ask questions later. And, research shows that when the shooter is white and the victim Black, the state is more likely to sanction that murder.
Arbery’s murder occurred just three days from the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Arbery was not a teenager with a hoodie and a bag of skittles, but he and Martin shared the only quality that mattered to their killers: Black skin.
Ahmaud Arbery deserves justice, as do the thousands of Black people killed every year in the United States and thousands more people of every race and sex. That Arbery’s life was taken at 25 because he dared to exercise while Black merely underscores that our nation must address racism and violence if it is to live up to its founding ideals that all people are created equal. When a Black man can be murdered in the street with no repercussions, no such equality exists.”
About Stand Your Ground Laws:
Beginning with Florida in 2005, a number of states — including Georgia in 2006 enacted Stand Your Ground laws which fundamentally altered the law of self-defense. Traditionally, the law of self-defense put a premium on protecting life; the law imposed on private citizens a duty to try, if possible, to retreat from a dangerous confrontation prior to deploying lethal force in self-defense (with a narrow exception for confrontations occurring in their homes). Stand Your Ground laws like Georgia’s limit this duty to retreat even in contexts outside of the home.
These laws were promoted by the NRA, the gun lobby, and groups such as ALEC, which pushed model Stand Your Ground legislation, in furtherance of the myth that guns increase public safety by reducing crime. These laws were also drafted and passed without any consideration of the fact that they would embolden racially- motivated vigilantism like the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida and, now, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. These laws undermine public safety and encourage reckless gun owners to believe that even if they could avoid a lethal confrontation, they can kill someone and later claim self-defense to avoid being held responsible for taking the lives of individuals — particularly people of color — they falsely perceive as a threat.
The dark reality of Stand Your Ground laws is clear:
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.