Accountability in Glynn County, Georgia


On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, went out for a jog on a quiet Sunday afternoon in the majority white neighborhood of Satilla Shores in Glynn County, Georgia. Just after 1pm, three white men hunted him down and murdered him.

For 74 days after this hate crime occurred, local officials wrote it off as a justifiable shooting. No one was arrested and no one knew the circumstances of the killing because no media organization in Coastal Georgia practiced investigative journalism. The Current launched in fall 2020 to fill that news vacuum.

In 2021 The Current conducted a ten-month data-driven investigation that revealed troubling patterns among Glynn County’s law enforcement agencies toward communities of color. Although Ahmaud was not killed by police, his death raised urgent questions among Black residents about how police treated them as perpetrators of crimes rather than victims.

Our reporting revealed a record of implicit bias among county police and lack of oversight among local officials to hold police accountable for miscarriages of justice in multiple cases stretching back a decade.

As a majority minority town, Brunswick is a place where 27% of the population live in poverty. Poor people of color there and the surrounding county routinely get convicted at higher rates than the already eye-popping rates for the state.

Our reporters revealed failures of law enforcement as well as highlighted solutions. Editor Margaret Coker, co-founder of The Current, profiled a new community group of Black professionals determined to improve local government and the quality of life in Glynn County. Their work to hire the county’s first Black police chief, detailed in the story in the link below, was published in partnership with The Washington Post Magazine.

The impact of journalism was immediate. Whistleblowers came to The Current to help us reveal questionable attempts by county commissioners to bypass state laws and hire an unqualified friend as county manager, the highest-paid position in local government. The Current’s exposure of this cronyism saved the county millions of dollars and put elected officials on notice that they would be held accountable after years without scrutiny.

The Current will continue to be an advocate for our neighbors and readers in the absence of any other watchdog.