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80+ House Members & Senators Call for Federal Civil Rights Investigation into Ahmaud Arbery Murder

May 13, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and more than 80 colleagues in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a criminal civil rights investigation into the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and an independent investigation into local authorities’ handling of the case. The lawmakers urge DOJ to investigate these matters swiftly and thoroughly so that Mr. Arbery’s family can know the truth about what happened to their son.

Last week, more than 2 months after his tragic death, Mr. Arbery’s killers were arrested after video of the murder was released and went viral online. Since then, serious concerns have been raised about the prosecutorial misconduct that allowed the killers to walk free.

“Make no mistake, there cannot be true justice in this case, for in a just America, Mr. Arbery would still be alive,” write the lawmakers. “However, his family and this nation demand accountability for Mr. Arbery’s death. We are encouraged by the initial steps taken by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in this case and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s recent call for a federal investigation. The recent announcement by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia that they would begin assessing evidence of this crime is an encouraging step forward in a case where substantial actions have been delayed."

Because the state of Georgia does not have a law prohibiting or acknowledging bias-based crimes, the DOJ Civil Rights Division is uniquely suited to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime, or another violation of federal civil rights law.

“DOJ must uphold its duty to conduct oversight of misconduct by law enforcement and local authorities and ensure that every community, particularly those communities where incidents like these occur with impunity, are protected from blatant dismissal and violations of their civil rights,” the lawmakers continue. “We can and must hold accountable those involved in any wrongdoing.”

The letter is also signed by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), André Carson (IN-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Joe Neguse (CO-02), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Al Green (TX-09), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Darren Soto (FL-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Frederica S. WIlson (FL-24), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Andy Levin (MI-09), Peter Welch (VT-00), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Karen Bass (CA-37), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-00) and Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), and Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR).

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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