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Brunswick prepares for spotlight as trial for men accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s death nears

Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, bottom center, listens to Jason Vaughn speak during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud at the Satilla Shores development, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery's son was shot and killed last year while running in a neighborhood outside the port city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, bottom center, listens to Jason Vaughn speak during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud at the Satilla Shores development, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery's son was shot and killed last year while running in a neighborhood outside the port city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The city of Brunswick is back in the spotlight.

In just a few days, the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will begin.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the murder trial of Greg and Travis McMichael, a white father and son who armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood.

Also standing trial is William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor who joined the chase on Feb. 23, 2020, and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun.

The city of Brunswick is back in the spotlight. In just a few days, the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will begin.
The city of Brunswick is back in the spotlight. In just a few days, the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will begin.

Some people in the Glynn County city are relieved, others are anxious about the trial.

RELATED: Past Ahmaud Arbery coverage from News4Jax

Some say it hasn’t been normal since Arbery was killed, but they don’t want to go back to normal.

They want Brunswick to be changed after this trial, and for this to never happen to anyone else.

“When I used to meet people and say I’m from Brunswick, Georgia they were like where is that? Now when I say I’m from Brunswick, Georgia they’re like isn’t that the place the jogger got killed?” said Keith Reddings, community activist.

Reddings knows Arbery’s case well and knows the family.

He told News4Jax the same people in the community split in two when Arbery was killed could become jurors, deciding the fate of the three men charged.

“It’s a little scary but at the same time, I think with 1000 people they should be able to find an impartial group of 12 or 16,” Reddings said.

Attorneys said the judge summoned 1,000 potential jurors.

One woman on Twitter said her mother was summoned for the trial, but likely won’t be called due to health issues.

“I’m hoping this trial will spark a change and that we never go back to the way it was but a new change a new day in Glynn County,” said Brunswick resident Richard Alston Jr.

Authorities, leaders prepare for large crowds

Now, preparations are underway for Monday’s jury selection with nationwide attention on the small southeast Georgia community. There are demonstrations planned this weekend and authorities are preparing for large crowds.

On Thursday night, a town hall was held, where members of the community had a chance to voice their concerns and asks questions.

Local law enforcement officers, firefighters and public works employees having been preparing for the past six months to make sure the jury selection process and trial is safe for everyone. They’re also coordinating with state and federal agencies.

Officials did not say exactly how many police officers will be ready to respond, but did say they have several plans in place. They hope to have a presence -- while not discouraging people’s right to assemble.

During the town hall, Arbery’s aunt spoke to city leaders, saying she wants justice for her nephew.

“I don’t want to see nobody hurt in the community, and I also don’t want to see nobody who was did like my nephew was did,” she said. “All we got to do is pray. Ain’t nobody coming to hurt none of us, because no one is here to fight. They are only here to support.”

Law enforcement says it does have contingency plans in place, just in case.

“This is not a situation where we are going to put a police officer on every corner,” an officer at the meeting said. “We’re trying to create a small footprint to let people express themselves, and hopefully that works out well.”


About the Authors:

A Florida girl and North Carolina A&T SU grad who thrives in breaking news.

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.