With all due respect, America should not know that name. But sadly, that name has been thrust into the national spotlight. Wanda Cooper-Jones is the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old man that was shot and killed while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23. Sixty-four-year-old Gregory McMichael and his 30-year-old son Travis McMichael were arrested seventy-four days after the incident occurred.
There is a lot to unpack here. Local accounts claim there were several burglaries in the area, and that Arbery fit the description of one of the suspects. That turned out to be false. One account had Arbery trespassing on a residential construction site, looking to steal some tools. When pursued by the McMichaels, Arbery took off running. When confronted by the two men, Arbery got into a tussle with the elder McMichael, who was brandishing a shotgun. Gregory McMichael fired the fatal shot that killed Arbery, setting off another round of protests from Americans weary of the wanton killings of unarmed Black citizens.
The press will always televise reactions from the deceased’s family members to form their own narrative. The family members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting victims offered perpetrator Dylann Roof forgiveness for his crime. When Travyon Martin was murdered in 2012, his mother, Sybrina Fulton, mentioned that Black people are expected to forgive those that have transgressed against them. Well, no such sentiment is coming from Ms. Cooper-Jones, who has maintained that the McMichaels should be sentenced to death for the murder of her son. Nor should there be such sentiment.
Arbery was wantonly pursued by the McMichaels. He had committed no crime. The McMichaels instigated the incident. Arbery was defending himself as he was stalked. The reaction from Ms. Cooper-Jones is the natural reaction that any mother born with natural maternal instincts would have. There is no reconciliatory measures necessary when you kill someone’s child. That sensibility isn’t imposed on animals, so you can’t impose them on Ms. Cooper-Jones
America is used to Black people offering forgiveness to those that wantonly murder their family members, as that shows a sign of strength. This isn’t a writing that will argue those sensibilities of faith. However, can you really offer forgiveness while the perpetrator doesn’t get properly punished for the crime? As history tells us, there’s no guarantee that the McMichaels will be found guilty of the shooting. Therefore, there’s no deterrent to preventing such a horrible tragedy in the future.
But I digress. Ms. Cooper-Jones is now left grieving and demanding the execution of the perpetrators that killed her son. And unless you’re a robot with absolutely no emotions, or money hungry, there’s really no convincing argument against that sentiment.