Nearly All-White Jury Selected. Can Justice Still Be Done in Arbery Case?

This s a photo of Kevin Seraaj, journalist and publisher of the Orlando Advocate
Kevin Seraaj, publisher, Orlando Advocate

Time. The great equalizer. No matter how entrenched the emnity, no matter how engrained the system of belief, time has a way of correcting the ship’s course in even the most turbulent of circumstances. Even with an almost all-white jury (eleven white and one black) empaneled in the murder trial of the three white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery for jogging in the “wrong” place at clearly the wrong time, justice remains a real possibility.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that out of 65 prospective jurors, one Black and eleven whites were selected to serve on the jury that will hear the case against Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. Four alternate jurors were also seated. All are white.

There will be those who at first blush will see this jury selection result as another monumental failure of the criminal justice system. After all, the county where Arbery’s killers are being tried is nearly 27% Black. In a perfect world, though, even if thirty percent of the jurors seated were black, the white jurors could still frustrate a unanimous guilty verdict if they were so inclined.

Dripping water will wear away a stone over time. The injustices to which blacks have been treated have become more acutely in focus in recent years. Once rejected out-of-hand by even well-intentioned whites, the fact of disparate treatment applied systematically in the “sacred and hallowed” halls of justice is harder now for anyone to deny– even those determined to justify it.

What used to be hidden is fully in the light, and over time whites have come to accept, however begrudgingly, that justice must indeed become blind if it to exist at all. As Sarah Dessen, in her book, Just Listen, opined: “There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart.” 

It is also important to consider that blended families are everywhere today– and not the type that existed back when “Massa” was sleeping with the slaves. We’re just far enough away from the days of black codes and the KKK for whites to begin saying “No” to other whites who would disrespect and kill blacks with impunity– in far greater numbers and with less hesitation than the Abolitionists. After all, a lot of them have grandchildren of mixed parentage who look to them for counsel and advice, respect and love.

Call me naive, but I believe that the the evidence will show the three defendants to be guilty of capital murder, and I fully expect that the jury will do the right thing and return with the proper verdict. But I have no mystical crystal ball. As is always ultimately the case, time will most certainly tell.