Durbin, Duckworth Join Congressional Call For Federal Civil Rights Investigation Into Death Of Ahmaud Arbery

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and more than 80 of their colleagues in the House and Senate in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a criminal civil rights investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery and an independent investigation into local authorities’ handling of the case.  The lawmakers urged DOJ to investigate these matters swiftly and thoroughly so that Arbery’s family can know the truth about what happened to their son. 

Last week, more than two months after his tragic death, Mr. Arbery’s alleged killers were arrested after video of his death was released and went viral online.  Since then, serious concerns have been raised about the prosecutorial misconduct that allowed the individuals 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,” the lawmakers wrote.  “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, 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.”

The lawmakers continued, “Because 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.  We can and must hold accountable those involved in any wrongdoing.”

In addition to Durbin, Duckworth, and Booker, the letter was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Full text of the letter is available here.