The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is offering up her opinion on the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. President Trump’s rhetoric incites violence against black people and there is no leadership at the Department of Justice right now, she says. And, Mayor Bottoms thinks she’s “a pretty great person”.
Keisha Lance Bottoms is on the shortlist of potential vice-presidential picks for Joe Biden. You need to take anything she says at this point through that lens. When she gives an interview on cable television, as she did Sunday morning with CNN’s Jake Tapper, she is auditioning for that job.
The hunting down and killing of Ahmaud Arbery is a horrible story, there is no question about that. It happened back in February in Brunswick, Georgia, a city on the southeast coast of Georgia with a population of just over 16,000. Ms. Bottoms is not the mayor of Brunswick, but of Atlanta, the largest city in the state. I bring the distinction between Brunswick and Atlanta because the two are very different cities. Unlike some cities in the South, Brunswick has a reputation and history of being “a model Southern city”. The dirty little secret about tensions between black people and white people in the South, especially during the days of desegregation, is that many southern cities handled federal desegregation orders far easier than cities in northern states. I know this because I remember those days as a kid and I lived in such a Southern city in Louisiana. So, it is particularly troubling for such a horrendous murder to have happened in this location.
It is impossible to look at the murder without asking if Ahmaud Arbery would be dead if he was a white man out for a jog in a residential neighborhood in broad daylight. Mayor Bottoms has come to her own conclusion and takes her own rhetoric up a few notches and accuses President Trump’s rhetoric as the reason for Arbery’s death. No matter how absurd they sound while doing so, Democrats accuse Republicans of racism at the drop of a hat. In this case, that white father and son hunted down and killed a young black man because Trump incites violence against black people. She calls it a “lynching of an African American man.” “Had we not seen that video, I don’t believe they would be charged,” Bottoms told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It is heartbreaking. It is 2020. And this was a lynching of an African American man.”
In discussing the Arbery case on CNN Sunday, Bottoms took aim at the Trump administration, referring to “rhetoric that we hear coming out of the White House.”“In so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020,” she said.
“In cities across this country, even if local leadership fails, there was always the backstop of our Justice Department to step in and make sure that people are appropriately prosecuted. But we don’t have that leadership at the top right now. It is disheartening.
“I have four kids, three of whom are African American boys. They are afraid. They are angry and they are afraid. And I think it speaks to the need to have leadership at the top that cares for all of our communities and not just in words but in deeds as well.”
Trump has been accused of being a racist since he first began to campaign for president in 2015. It’s what Democrats do – all Republican candidates are racist, especially Republican presidents. It has been so for as long as I can remember. The racial component of this murder was bound to play a role in discussions about it. As President Trump runs for re-election, expect more of the same. Remember that Joe Biden, when he entered the Democrat primary referenced the Nazi/white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Trump’s response to it (though the Democrats’ version of that event has been debunked) as the reason he finally decided to enter the race. Democrats lap that kind of malarkey up and Biden was applauded for his statements against Trump at the time.
The truth is that President Trump spoke well of the 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery from the first time he was asked about his murder. He called it “very disturbing”. He reiterated his opinion during an interview on Fox and Friends Friday morning.
“I looked at a picture of that young man,” Trump said. “He was in a tuxedo… I will say that that looks like a really good young guy. It’s a very disturbing situation, to me. My heart goes out to the parents, and the family, and the friends.”
Brunswick isn’t a perfect city, there is no such place. Racial tensions happen all over the country. The hesitancy of local law enforcement to make an arrest in this murder, only done after the video emerged, has caused concerns among the residents of Brunswick.
Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker said the killing of Arbery has rocked the local community and many residents were frustrated with law enforcement’s failure to make an immediate arrest.
“I’m pretty sure most of the people out there are pretty shocked by it,” Booker said of the murder.
Booker, who is black, said he knew there was racism in Glynn County but never expected it would escalate to a killing.
Booker said he has been working with local clergy in recent years to improve the black community’s relationship with the police.
“The black community has always had issues with law enforcement here,” Booker said.
Black members of the city stress that they didn’t want to make the murder a racial story, yet here we are. Mayor Bottoms is tossing fuel on the fire, apparently for her own selfish reasons.
“From the start, we did not want to make this a racial issue,” said Cedric Z. King, a black community organizer and businessman in Brunswick.
“If anyone had warm blood running through their veins and a heart that pumped blood, they would feel that what they saw on Tuesday of this week is flat-out wrong,” he added, referring to the video of the shooting that was released last week. “It’s not what this community is about, it’s not what this country is about.”
Mr. Arbery’s case has reflected the conflicting currents that have long coursed through Glynn County, situated in what’s known as the Golden Isles freckling the Georgia coast between Savannah and Jacksonville.
He lived in a place that had been recognized for its moments of racial harmony, yet it was just as defined by deeply ingrained biases that can be nearly impossible to untangle.
Mayor Bottoms doesn’t seem to lack self-confidence. She told Jake Tapper when asked about being considered as a potential vice-president choice by Joe Biden, that she’s “a pretty great person.” Remember, Biden has pledged to pick a woman and now many Democrats are upping that pledge to demand he chooses a black woman.
“I think I am a pretty great person. I don’t know if my husband would agree with that,” she joked. “But I certainly think that Joe Biden has the right to pick whomever he thinks will help propel him to victory in November. It is an honor to have my name spoken in that light. But being mayor of Atlanta right now is a more than a full-time job, continuing to lead our city but also in the midst of COVID-19.”
Bottoms will have to fight Stacey Abrams in Georgia, though.