The family of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia jogger who made headlines after being killed by White vigilantes while on a neighborhood run, is reportedly heading to the White House on Tuesday to attend the signing of an executive order on police reform.
On Monday evening, April Ryan, White House correspondent and D.C. bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, tweeted about the expected visit, saying that civil rights leaders were “OUTRAGED” that Ahmaud Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt, along with the Arbery family, had chosen to attend the signing and be on hand for a photo op. They were particularly dismayed by the fact that the police reform executive order does nothing to address the issues that sparked protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. They believe the family is being used as a prop for a photo shoot.
ESSENCE reached out to the White House for confirmation on the reported visit by the Arbery family, but did not receive a response prior to the time of publication.
On Monday, senior administration officials held a background briefing for reporters to go over Trump’s executive order regarding police reform. During the briefing, officials admitted that police departments could be of better service if they required that officers received proper credentials. Minneapolis, Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, were given as examples of police departments that need a level of reform, but stated that the overhaul should be initiated by the cities’ mayors. This is contrary to the demands laid out by protesters and select politicians who have been advocating for reforms to be made on a federal level.
Trump is expected to make the details of his executive order on police reform public on Tuesday. He also plans to facilitate a conversation between law enforcement officers and the families of those killed by police. It is not clear why the Arbery family would be in attendance, given that Ahmaud was killed by vigilantes. The father, Gregory McMichael, was an ex-police officer who was no longer on the force.
On Monday afternoon the impeached president told reporters that the overall goal of the executive order on police reform is “law and order.” Adding, “But it’s about justice also, and it’s about safety.”