BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Two blocks from the Glynn County Courthouse on Wednesday, Arthur Reed, 27, was installing a fresh stretch of sidewalk in front of a small one-story cottage. Over the din of a buzzing concrete saw, Mr. Reed was asked about the work of the 12 jurors who were inside the courthouse at that very moment, deciding the fate of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Should they find the men guilty? “I believe they should,” said Mr. Reed, who is Black, “But how it all goes, we’re only going to see.”
Mr. Reed was asked to unpack the comment. What, exactly, did he mean by that?
Mr. Reed hesitated, and laughed. “We’re only going to see,” he said. And then it was back to the concrete.
As the attention of the world focused on Brunswick, population about 16,000, much of the city was busy at work on what was, in some ways, just another Wednesday, though it was hard to imagine the jury’s work not being on the minds of just about everyone in town. There was a sense of life being punctuated — by the most explosive murder case this region has seen in decades — but also of life just rolling along on Thanksgiving Eve. In a newspaper box downtown, a story about the jury’s work was featured above the fold of The Brunswick News. Above the story, a box of text promised an article about the Glynn Academy’s competitive cheer squad, which, the paper said, “continues to make waves.”
The scene outside the courthouse on Wednesday was dominated by TV news crews and other journalists. They outnumbered the peaceful protesters, perhaps 50 in all, many of them older women who are part of a group called the Transformative Justice Coalition. They had a table with snacks and water. Occasionally, they burst into cheers of “Justice for Ahmaud.” Members of New Black Panther Party, who showed up earlier in the week, some of them with weapons, were not to be seen Wednesday morning.
Cherry Simmons, 36, was standing under the oak trees in front of the courthouse waiting for Mr. Arbery’s parents to arrive. Brunswick, she said, was “comfortable,” but there was much to be desired, particularly on the matter of race.
Ms. Simmons, who is Black, said her brother has been harassed by the police for driving a nice car with tinted windows.
She said she was optimistic — moderately so — that the jury would return guilty verdicts. “The prosecutor did a really good job,” she said. “So I feel like it’s going to go in the right direction.”
She also said she was worried that people might get “wild” if things went the other way. “Because Ahmaud was very much known in Glynn County,” she said. “Everybody knew him.”
Just beyond the courtroom, and a lot full of TV news trucks, a crew of white men were taking down an outdoor stage that had hosted demonstrators rallying on behalf of Mr. Arbery’s family. A man in a ball cap who declined to give his name was stacking sheets of plywood into the back of a pickup truck. The Rolling Stones were on the radio, with Mick Jagger singing “Angie” in his Southern pantomime.
The man said that the case was more complicated than the pro-Arbery protesters would admit. He spent some time describing the contents of the video of Mr. Arbery’s killing, focusing on the moment when Mr. Arbery — unarmed, running down the road and pinned in by two pickup trucks — turns to his left, where the defendant Travis McMichael was waiting for him with a 12-gauge shotgun in his hands.
“He confronted him who had the gun,” the man said of Mr. Arbery. “Now, if you’ve got a gun, I’m not going to confront you. I’ve got more damn sense than that. I would try to run the other way.”
The man was asked what he would do if he were a juror.
“Well,” he said. “It’s hard to say.”
Another man told him to stop talking. “Bubba,” he said, “we need you over here.” There was still work to be done.