On June 4th, two lawyers representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery — the 25-year-old black man who, last February, was murdered while jogging through his Georgia neighborhood– found themselves without transportation to a court hearing in Brunswick, GA. After unsuccessfully trying to purchase plane tickets or rent a car, Blerim Elmazi and S. Lee Merritt were rescued by rapper JAY-Z, who chartered a private jet to fly them to the courthouse on time.
“[Merritt] and I spent hours trying to find flights or cars,” Elmazi wrote in an Instagram statement. “At 1 am we started losing hope till we got a call from Jay Z’s people at Roc Nation who chartered a flight for us to attend this hearing with the family of Ahmaud Arbery. Thankful for their support.”
In a separate post, Merritt added, “When you absolutely have to be in Court to stand with your client and righteous protestors for justice … Jay Z sends his private jet.”
The two lawyers seem to have been in Houston participating in police-reform protests. In a video on June 4th, Merritt can be seen addressing a crowd alongside congressional representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green.
Because Merritt and Elmazi work for the family of Ahmaud Arbery, their presence wasn’t required for Georgia prosecutors to proceed against alleged murderers George and Travis McMichael. But the two lawyers were able to conduct press interviews on the family’s behalf, as well as live-tweeting revelations from the hearing. Merritt helped break the news that, after Arbery had been shot, defendant Travis McMichael stood over his body and called him a “fucking n—-r.” That fact will help establish a racist motivation for the killing.
As for JAY-Z, this isn’t the first time he’s participated in Black Lives Matter protests. After a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, Hov called the governor of Minnesota to demand justice. But at other times, the rapper has come under fire, especially for his partnership with the NFL despite his public support for Colin Kaepernick. In November, JAY-Z tried to get Kaepernick an NFL workout, but found himself “disappointed” with the bureaucratic outcome.
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) June 4, 2020