Two young black men facing life-and-death situations. One of them, Ahmaud Arbery, was murdered in cold blood four months ago while he was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. The other is Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who in 1993 was found not guilty of shooting and killing a man he believed was a threat to him and his family. At the time, Tony was 14 years old.
Last week, police detectives arrested Arbery’s killers, Gregory and Travis McMichael, after a video showing their modern-day lynching of the 25-year-old jogger went viral. The gruesome footage shows Arbery trying to fight off his attackers and Gregory McMichael blasting him with a shotgun at point-blank range. The slow-footed investigation to file criminal charges against the McMichaels has sparked national outrage and shows that racism still allows white men to hunt black people they don’t believe belong in their neighborhoods.
Yet there’s a double standard at play when it comes to Tony. In the middle of his reelection campaign, news that he killed an 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez outside his childhood home after an argument has come to light, along with racy photos of the sheriff and his wife at an alleged swingers’ pool party. Tony is getting dragged over an act of self-defense that occurred 27 years ago, despite having been acquitted and moving on with his life in a positive direction. And what Tony and his wife do on their private time has no bearing on his ability to lead Broward’s largest police force.
Obviously, someone who doesn’t want Tony to get reelected is feeding the media. I spoke to a local black journalist who said reporters are just doing their jobs by putting out these stories. That’s a bullshit excuse to justify manufacturing public outrage about Tony’s past that has nothing to do with his job.
One thing’s certain. If Arbery had been able to wrestle the shotgun away and killed the McMichaels, he’d have been put through the same ordeal as Tony, who was initially arrested and was to have been tried as an adult for killing Rodriguez. And Arbery would have had to trust that a jury would believe the word of a young black man whom prosecutors painted as a cold-blooded killer. That’s what Tony did.
Just like Arbery, Tony deserves the benefit of the doubt that he feared for his life.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1