Lesson of the Day: ‘What We Know About the Shooting Death of Ahmaud Arbery’

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Lesson of the Day: ‘What We Know About the Shooting Death of Ahmaud Arbery’

After video footage of Mr. Arbery’s killing was leaked this month, two men were arrested and charged with murder. Widespread protests and 2.23 mile solidarity runs ensued, posted on social media with the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.

In this lesson, you’ll investigate the facts of this case. You’ll make connections between this case and a larger narrative about life in America and, if you choose, find creative ways to honor Mr. Arbery’s memory.

What do you already know — or think you know — about the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery that has recently gained public attention? How did you learn about it? What questions do you have about what happened?

Use a K/W/L chart to record what you know and what you want to know. As you read the article, add what you learn to the last column.

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. Mr. Arbery was killed on Feb. 23. Why is his case only getting public attention now?

2. What new information did you learn about Mr. Arbery and how he was killed? Add these key facts to the last column of the K/W/L chart you began in the warm-up activity.

3. Why did George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Ga., argue that there was not sufficient probable cause to arrest Gregory and Travis McMichael? What do Mr. Arbery’s defenders say? On which details do the prosecution and defense differ specifically?

4. What role has the video played both in this case and in the court of public opinion? Why?

5. Mr. Fausset writes that this case “is resonating in troubling and familiar ways.” Why do you think the nation has reacted so strongly? What connections can you make to your own life, current events or history?

6. What is your reaction to what you have learned about the shooting death of Mr. Arbery? What do you think should be done?

In a Letter to the Editor, Cody Lyon from Brooklyn writes:

That it took months before the men were arrested is further proof the country’s justice and law enforcement apparatus is racially biased. There clearly was no sense of urgency among officials in the case.

If not for the video footage and subsequent media reports that stirred the country’s collective outrage, the chances of justice for Mr. Arbery would have probably remained distant. That in itself is a chilling commentary on life in America today.

What do you think this event says about life in America today? Write your own letter to the editor using evidence from the article, other sources or your own experiences to support your opinion.

Get more tips for writing rich reader responses here. And you can submit your final letter here.

Do something creative to honor Mr. Arbery’s life and memory. Try one of these ideas or come up with one of your own: