A “Justice for Ahmaud” rally took place in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Wednesday morning, mar. 27, 2024. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Originally reported by https://theatlantavoice.com/
by Donnell Suggs
Photo credits: Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

A crowd of non-violent protests stood just a few feet from the entrance of one of the highest courts in the land on Wednesday morning in downtown Atlanta. Their purpose was to let their voices be heard in opposition of an attempted appeal. 

The three men convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery; William Bryan, Gregory McMichal, and Travis McMichael, were granted an opportunity to appeal their convictions. The court hearing took place at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. A rally organized by a number of civil rights and grassroots organizations, including Black Voters Matter, Georgia NAACP and the Transformative Justice Coalition brought dozens of protestors and supporters to Forsyth Street. 

Looking around at the crowd assembled outside the crowd, Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, Jr. said of the overwhelming support for his family, “It makes me feel so good because what happened to Ahmaud, if we don’t stop this now, it will happen again.”

Along with Arbery, Jr., Ahmaud’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones, his aunt Carla Arbery, and other family members were in attendance for the hearing earlier that morning. 

Georgia NAACP President and attorney Gerald Griggs said of the full-throated supporters and familial support, “The message that we are sending is that the NAACP in Georgia will show up anytime, anywhere. This is the first protest at the 11th Circuit.”

Cliff Albright, the co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter added, “We wanted to send a message that we have not forgotten. We are going to be here. Wherever there is an injustice done to the community, we will be there.” 

Chants of “Bring Jackie Johnson to Justice” were heard throughout the rally. The former Glynn County District Attorney was ultimately charged with one count of violating her oath of office and another count of obstructing and hindering law enforcement, but some of the civil rights leaders and attorneys in attendance believe justice has not been served in regards to her yet. 

A number of supporters that were not affiliated with any of the organizations or the Arbery family were also in attendance, including Alichia Lewis. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Lewis was standing outside the courthouse holding a “Justice for Ahmaud” sign. Lewis was in the courtroom for the appellate hearings. She wasn’t impressed with the defense. “They tried to bring up irrelevant stuff, but it didn’t work,” she said. “It was interesting.” 

In an election year, with both local and national implications galore, all eyes will remain on Georgia. Griggs believes a turnout like what took place at the courthouse is just a small example of the people power that resides in Georgia.

“Everybody wants Georgia votes, so you better come do some justice in Georgia,” he said. 

What’s Next:

There will be an appeal hearing on the state level on Wednesday, June 5. 

Black Voters Matter co-founder and executive director Cliff Albright. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Alichia Lewis outside of the courthouse on Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2024. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice