Why didn't prosecutors show evidence of racism in Arbery murder trial? 'The whitewashing of this trial needs to be addressed'

Prosecutors had initially indicated they would introduce evidence of racism in the trial of three men who killed Amaud Arbery, but they didn't mention the slain Black man's race until the closing argument.

Legal experts say prosecutors decided to "play it safe" with a nearly all-white jury by skimming over skin color during the trial, which resulted in guilty verdicts for Travis McMichael, who pulled the trigger, and his father Gregory McMichael and family friend William "Roddie" Bryan, reported Vox.

"The prosecutors walked a thin line in trying to persuade jurors," said Tiffany Jeffers, a professor of law and legal practice at Georgetown University Law Center. "They're in the Deep South, so a Confederate flag in a juror's mind, superficially, may not equate to racism or white supremacy. If you cross that line, you've lost them."

Prosecutors could have -- but ultimately chose not to -- shown jurors a Facebook post by Travis McMichael referring to 1960s-era white supremacist singer Johnny Rebel, racist text messages from Bryan's cellphone, or an "Identity Dixie" Facebook post by Gregory McMichael, and experts said their decision to exclude that evidence of racist intent showed how little social progress has actually been made.

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"A lot of people in our country adhere to the myth of colorblindness," said Justin Hansford, a professor at the Howard University School of Law. "They think to talk about race makes you racist, so they're afraid to talk about race. The whitewashing of this trial needs to be addressed."

Defense attorneys brought race into the trial in other ways by demanding Black pastors and civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton be removed from the courtroom, and they signaled racist dog whistles about Arbery's hygiene and appearance, although they never mentioned skin color to a jury with only one Black panelist.

"The [nearly all-white makeup of the jury] was completely intentional," Jeffers said. "The judge noted it but didn't rule on it. You expect juries to resemble the communities they are representing."

"Whiteness is a race," she added. "It's an ideology, and there is bias associated with it, but we don't have those discussions. All of the burden is shifted onto Blackness and any potential bias Black people have because of their race. But no one talks about the potential bias of white jurors."