Op-Ed: My Experience Outside Glynn County Courthouse

What I saw hours before the verdict was delivered


Duncan Sligh

Barricades, viewers and media members surround front of Glynn County Courthouse.

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, a day before Thanksgiving and only hours before the verdict of the Ahmaud Arbery trial was announced, I was standing outside the Glynn County Courthouse observing the scene.

It wasn’t initially my intention to be there. I, like most Armstrong students, was enjoying a nice break from my hectic class schedule, and more than willing to let a story or two wait for the weekend so that I could better enjoy time with my family.

However, since I was at my parents’ house in St. Simons and we had errands to run in Brunswick, I realized that I had an opportunity to take a visit to the courthouse; I was curious about the scene anyway. National news coverage doesn’t often occur in Brunswick, Ga, and I thought I could learn something from seeing how events were unfolding.

I thought I’d stop by briefly, take some pictures, maybe talk to a person there, and get out. The trial has been well-covered by a variety of media outlets; local, regional and national. I didn’t think I could contribute any news that wasn’t already being reported.

I was expecting organized demonstrations, clashes between protesters and similar sights. I had prepared questions relating to the tense situation, and how various people were dealing with it.

That was not what I experienced. I arrived at a relatively casual affair. There were barricades set up in case of a rush of protesters, but it seemed purely precautionary. There was not a hint of violence, unrest or unease.

It was a brisk day, families were cuddled together under blankets sharing laughs, feelings and stories. News reporters from across the United States were looking for interesting perspectives to feature. People were having conversations.

I spoke to the first person I saw who seemed open to a conversation with a stranger. I didn’t get his name, but he was working as a security guard with no obvious affiliation or tie to any political group or social movement. As far as I could tell, his only agenda was to keep the peace.

Peace was well-kept. He stressed how smoothly things had gone. He said that there was some slight tension when some organizers from out of town showed up (it’s unclear exactly who he meant) but nothing negative had really come of it.

My takeaway: I’m glad I went. I’m glad because although I didn’t break any news, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. I found people who wanted to come together, from a variety of races, ages, backgrounds and political affiliations.

I’m hoping that this is evidence that America is itching to become more cohesive. It’s so easy to let hatred guide your actions and thoughts. It’s much harder to make a sincere, respectful effort to demonstrate your beliefs while listening to those around you.

That’s the scene I found outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Nov. 24, hours before Travis McMichael, his father Gregory and their neighbor William Bryan were convicted for the felony murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

The livestream I captured can be found on the Inkwell’s Instagram page. For more opinion articles and news relating to students, check out the George-Anne and the George-Anne Inkwell’s website.