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Column: The right folks will investigate, try the Arbery case — and that isn’t you, me or the media
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

The news business today is sort of like a bus ride. The media gets onboard a story and rides it until another bus comes along.

That happened last week when reporters from everywhere began pouncing on the story of the shooting of an unarmed man in Brunswick, Ga.

First of all, the whole thing is horrible and I have felt that way since watching that gut-wrenching video.

I give high marks to our attorney general and our governor for quickly dispatching the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take charge in the investigation. Within 36 hours, they had a father and son in custody and charged them with murder.

There is a courthouse in Brunswick and that’s where this case will be tried, not on TV or online or in a newspaper.

But that doesn’t stop the sensationalists from seeking out family members or so-called experts to vent their side of the story.

There was a time when one could read news from around the state. In Atlanta, it is not news unless it happens inside of I-285 or is some heinous crime that rocks a small town.

Years ago, they had people who would do feature stories about some interesting slice of life in one of our small towns. Consultants told the news people that viewers wouldn’t watch, so they quit doing regular features.

Murder was something that was confined to the big cities. Now, it has spread to the suburbs and beyond. If you see a TV truck rolling into your town, folks start wondering what in the world has happened.

As soon as the news of the killing in Brunswick began to reach the national level, folks began ignoring the warnings about social distancing and staging protests on the courthouse steps. If somebody catches the coronavirus, it may largely go unnoticed.

Attorney General Chris Carr has appointed a very capable prosecutor from Cobb County to take over the criminal investigation. She happens to be African-American, but she has the background to handle a high-profile case like this one.

He has also asked U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine to conduct a federal investigation. I have known Mr. Christine for about 10 years. He’s a nice guy, but he is a straight arrow when it comes to the law. His district, which includes Augusta, Savannah, Brunswick and Valdosta has been one of the busiest in the country since Christine was appointed by the current president.

I’ve been a reporter and I’m sure that after reporting on the pandemic for many weeks, a new story is welcomed. But this case is not going to be tried on television in little boxes where people yell at each other.

The local police have been pulled out of this investigation. The work will be done by people who have one goal: find the truth and if any additional crimes have been committed, lock the offenders up and try them in a court of law.

It didn’t take the GBI long to find a trail on this case. Now it is time for the federal and state attorneys to make sure there is no stone unturned. The job is in the hands of people who have no obligation to the people of Glynn County but to do what is right.

I hope the news during the probe is so quiet that all you hear is TV trucks leaving town.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly. 

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