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Ahmaud Arbery killing: US authorities weighing hate crime charges

The United States Justice Department is weighing whether to file hate crime charges against the white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was shot dead while jogging in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Monday. “The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice,…

Ahmaud Arbery killing: US authorities weighing hate crime charges

The United States Justice Department is weighing whether to file hate crime charges against the white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was shot dead while jogging in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Monday.
“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate,” Kupec said in a statement.
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Ahmaud Arbery’s family calls for immediate arrests over his death 

State authorities were unable to investigate the killing as a hate crime as Georgia is one of four states without a hate crime law. 
Outrage over Arbery’s death came last week after a video of the alleged murder, which took place on February 23, surfaced. 

Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia in an undated photo [Marcus Arbery/Handout via Reuters]

The video shows Arbery running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road with a truck parked on the road ahead of him. One white man is inside the pick-up truck’s bed, while the other is standing beside the driver’s open door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the pick-up truck on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle.
A second shot is heard, and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face down.
Authorities asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to look into the case last week after the video emerged. The GBI arrested and charged father-son pair, Gregory and Travis McMichael, with murder and aggravated assault. 
The father and son told police they thought Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before, according to the Glynn County police report filed after the shooting.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her 25-year-old son, a former high school football player, was just jogging in the neighbourhood before he was killed.
Meanwhile, a man identifying himself as the person who recorded the mobile phone video of the shooting said he had received death threats.
William “Roddie” Bryan is identified as a witness in the police report taken after Arbery’s shooting. He appears to be mentioned in a single sentence of the report, which says Gregory McMichael told an officer that “‘Roddy’ attempted to block [Arbery] which was unsuccessful.”
“I had nothing to do with it. I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week,” Bryan told WJAX-TV in an interview that aired Monday. “I was told I was a witness, and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”
Bryan has not been charged in the case. The TV station reported Bryan would not discuss his involvement in the events that led to Arbery’s death.
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Ahmaud

A Lot Happened in the Ahmaud Arbery Case Over the Weekend

Two months before Ahmaud Arbery was chased down by Gregory and Travis McMichael and killed in their south Georgia neighborhood, a local cop had told a nearby homeowner he could rely on Greg for help with any trespassers on his under-construction property. Glynn County police officer Robert Rash texted property owner Larry English last December…

A Lot Happened in the Ahmaud Arbery Case Over the Weekend

Two months before Ahmaud Arbery was chased down by Gregory and Travis McMichael and killed in their south Georgia neighborhood, a local cop had told a nearby homeowner he could rely on Greg for help with any trespassers on his under-construction property.

Glynn County police officer Robert Rash texted property owner Larry English last December to say that if there were any problems with trespassers, he could hit up Gregory McMichael, who’d worked in local law enforcement for decades and lived nearby.

“Greg is retired Law Enforcement and also a retired investigator from the DA’s Office. He said please call him day or night when you get action on your [surveillance] camera,” Rash told English.

The texts between Rash and English were only revealed in the past few days after being shared with CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. English has repeatedly sought to distance himself from the McMichaels, saying the circumstances surrounding his home hardly warranted a “vigilante response.” English had shared surveillance footage with the officer by text because his home had been repeatedly trespassed, although never burglarized.

Nearly two months after the text exchange, officers were called to respond to a citizen’s-arrest-turned-fatal-shooting in the suburban neighborhood. Ahmaud Arbery, who was out jogging, was fatally shot about a block away from English’s property, which had apparently been a source of intrigue among locals on Facebook and Nextdoor.

Gregory McMichael, who lost his authority to make arrests before his retirement last year, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and chased Arbery in their truck, apparently because they believed he was a burglary suspect and wanted to stop him. Another neighbor recorded the killing. Two days after that video was leaked in early May and caused national outrage, the McMichaels were charged with murder and aggavated assault, in an incident that Arbery’s family has described as a modern-day lynching.

The McMichaels are white. Arbery was black.

Gregory McMichael told police he and his son pursued the 25-year-old black man because he had been “caught on surveillance video” and was “hauling ass” down their road. It’s not yet clear what surveillance footage he was referring to, but Arbery was potentially recorded walking through the under-construction home moments before the pursuit. The chase ultimately ended with Travis and Arbery struggling for control of Travis’ shotgun, and Travis shooting Arbery three times.

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael have hired separate lawyers; attorneys for Gregory emphasized Friday that their client was charged as a party to his son’s alleged crime. Both legal teams have suggested, however, that there are yet-to-be-reported facts that could exonerate their clients.

English had recorded multiple people hanging around the property on his surveillance camera — including a young black man now believed to be Arbery — but never enlisted the McMichaels’ help nor shared his surveillance footage with the retired county investigator. He didn’t believe anyone was stealing anything, and his attorney Elizabeth Graddy told CNN it’s possible Arbery came in for a drink of water during his runs.

When English alerted Rash to his surveillance footage in December, Rash said he could contact Gregory McMichael next time. It’s unclear why the police department would deputize a retired officer — especially one with a spotty training history and suspended license — rather than recommending their own services. The Glynn County Police Department did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.

Gregory hadn’t been a police officer in decades; he was hired to be an investigator in the Glynn County District Attorney’s office in 1995. Furthermore, his connections to county law enforcement have complicated the case immensely. It took more than two months and a viral video of Arbery’s death for the McMichaels to be arrested, and the case passed through two district attorneys who were forced to recuse themselves because they were associated with the McMichaels in some way.

“We believe this communication deputized a group of untrained men in the Satilla Shores community to hunt down suspected trespassers, causing the events of Feb. 23, 2020,” S. Lee Merritt, one of two attorneys representing Arbery’s family, told the New York Times Friday.

Cover: A group of protesters march from the Glynn County Courthouse in downtown to a police station after a rally to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

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Ahmaud

Ahmaud Arbery: Two white men charged with murder over killing

Two white men – a father and son – have been arrested and charged with murder in the US state of Georgia over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot dead while he was out for a run in February. The charges came days after a mobile phone video that captured…

Ahmaud Arbery: Two white men charged with murder over killing

Two white men – a father and son – have been arrested and charged with murder in the US state of Georgia over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot dead while he was out for a run in February.
The charges came days after a mobile phone video that captured the 25-year-old’s killing just outside the port city of Brunswick, went viral, triggering a nationwide outcry.
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Ahmaud Arbery’s family calls for immediate arrests over his death 

Those close to Arbery celebrated the news, but also expressed frustration at the long wait.
“This should have occurred the day it happened,” said Akeem Baker, one of Arbery’s close friends in Brunswick. “There’s no way without the video this would have occurred. I’m just glad the light’s shining very bright on this situation.”
Gregory McMichael, 64, a former law enforcement officer and his 34-year-old son Travis were arrested on Thursday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
McMichael previously told police that he and his son chased after Arbery because they suspected him of being a burglar. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she believes her son, a former football player, was simply out jogging on a Sunday afternoon when he was followed and killed.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the slain man’s father, Marcus Arbery, said it was “outrageous” that it took so long for arrests to be made.
“This is the first step to justice,” Crump said in a statement. “This murderous father and son duo took the law into their own hands. It’s a travesty of justice that they enjoyed their freedom for 74 days after taking the life of a young Black man who was simply jogging.” 
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced the arrests the day after it began its own investigation at the request of an outside prosecutor. The agency said in a news release that the two men had been jailed on charges of murder and aggravated assault.

A cross with flowers and a letter ‘A’ sits at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighbourhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while he was out for a run in February. Two men were charged with murder on Thursday [Sean Rayford/Getty Images via AFP]

The GBI news release said the McMichaels “confronted Arbery with two firearms. During the encounter, Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery.” No other details were immediately released.
It was not immediately known if either of the McMichaels had a lawyer who could comment on the charges.
‘Lynched before our eyes’
Gregory McMichael served as an investigator for Glynn County District lawyer Jackie Johnson before he retired last year. The connection prompted Johnson to recuse herself from the case.
At a news conference before the arrests were announced on Thursday, Republican Governor Brian Kemp told reporters he was confident state investigators would “find the truth.”
“Earlier this week, I watched the video depicting Mr Arbery’s last moments alive,” Kemp told a news conference in Atlanta. “I can tell you it’s absolutely horrific and Georgians deserve answers.”
McMichael told police he suspected the runner was the same man filmed by a security camera committing a break-in. He and his grown son, Travis McMichael, grabbed guns and began a pursuit in the truck.
The video shows a Black man running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road with a truck parked on the road ahead of him. One white man is inside the pickup’s bed, while the other is standing beside the driver’s open door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the pick-up truck on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face down.
Brunswick defence lawyer Alan Tucker identified himself on Thursday as the person who shared the video. In a statement, Tucker said he was not representing anyone involved in the case. He said he released the video “because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions.”
Tucker did not say how he obtained the video. He did not immediately respond to a phone message or an email from the The Associated Press news agency.
The outcry over the killing reached the White House, where President Donald Trump offered condolences Thursday to Arbery’s family.
“It’s a very sad thing,” Trump said in the Oval Office, “but I will be given a full report this evening.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Arbery’s death a murder. During an online roundtable meeting on Thursday, Biden compared the video to seeing Arbery “lynched before our very eyes.”
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Ahmaud

Ahmaud Arbery’s family calls for immediate arrests in his death

The parents of an African American man slain in a pursuit by two armed white men have called for the immediate arrest of those responsible instead of waiting a month or longer before a grand jury in the state of Georgia could consider bringing charges. One of the men alleged to have killed Ahmaud Arbery, Gregory…

Ahmaud Arbery’s family calls for immediate arrests in his death

The parents of an African American man slain in a pursuit by two armed white men have called for the immediate arrest of those responsible instead of waiting a month or longer before a grand jury in the state of Georgia could consider bringing charges.
One of the men alleged to have killed Ahmaud Arbery, Gregory McMichael, worked as an investigator in the Glynn County district attorney’s office. He retired last year.
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“I think no arrests have been made because of the title he carried as a retired police officer.” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said in an appearance on Good Morning America on Thursday. 
An outside prosecutor in charge of the case said he wants a grand jury to decide whether criminal charges are warranted. That will not happen until at least mid-June, since Georgia courts remain largely closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A swelling outcry over the February 23 shooting of Arbery intensified this week after a cellphone video that lawyers for his family say shows the killing surfaced online Tuesday.
Following the video’s release, a large crowd of demonstrators marched in the neighbourhood where Arbery was killed, and the state opened its own investigation, which the governor and attorney general pledged to support.
The men who pursued Arbery before shooting him told police they believed he had committed a recent burglary in the area.
Cooper-Jones, told reporters Wednesday she believes her 25-year-old son “was just out for his daily jog” in a neighbourhood outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia. She said she has not seen the video and has no desire to do so.
“I saw my son come into the world,” Jones said. “And seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I’ll want to see ever.”
Attorneys for Arbery’s family said the father and son shooters, who have acknowledged in a police report grabbing guns and pursuing Arbery in a truck after seeing him running in their neighbourhood, should be arrested now instead of awaiting an indictment from a grand jury – as often happens in criminal cases.
“These men were vigilantes, they were a posse, and they performed a modern lynching in the middle of the day,” said Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Arbery’s mother.

The horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia is a reminder that we still do not live the truth that all are created equal. He was gunned down without regard for his humanity. The video is sickening and heartbreaking, and his family deserves justice.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 6, 2020

According to an incident report filed by Glynn County police, Arbery was shot after two men spotted him running in their neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon.
Gregory McMichael told police that he and his adult son thought the runner matched the description of someone caught on a security camera committing a recent break-in in the neighbourhood. They armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him.
The father said his son, Travis McMichael, got out of the truck holding a shotgun, and Arbery “began to violently attack” him. He said Arbery was shot as the two men fought over the shotgun, according to the police report.
After Arbery was shot, the police report says, Gregory McMichael turned him onto his back to see if he was armed. The report does not say whether he had a weapon.
A phone number listed for Gregory McMichael has been disconnected. The Associated Press could not immediately find a phone listing for Travis McMichael.

Macabre video
The cellphone video, initially posted by a Brunswick radio station, shows a Black man jogging along the left side of a road. A pick-up truck is parked in the road ahead of him. One man is inside the truck’s bed, and another is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the truck on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle.

A second shot can be heard, and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls, face down.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a Wednesday tweet: “Honestly and selfishly, I didn’t want to watch the murder” of Arbery. 

Honestly and selfishly, I didn’t want to watch the murder of #AhmaudArbery. I didn’t want to feel that nauseating churn of my stomach I get each time “it” happens. But that feeling doesn’t compare to the loss and sadness of his and too many other families. May justice be served.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) May 7, 2020

“I didn’t want to feel that nauseating churn of my stomach I get each time ‘it’ happens”, Bottoms continued. “But that feeling doesn’t compare to the loss and sadness of his and too many other families. May justice be served.”
Tom Durden, the district attorney appointed to oversee the case, declined to comment on Tuesday when asked if the video depicts Arbery’s shooting.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation got involved on Wednesday after Durden requested the agency’s help. GBI Director Vic Reynolds said he assigned three supervisory-level agents to the case.
“I realize that emotions are running high in this community and they’re running high throughout this state,” Reynolds said in a statement. “And the last thing anyone wants to do is extend us any patience. But I also realize that this investigation must be done correctly.”
Georgia law says a person can kill in self-defence “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury … or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” The law also says a person who provokes an attack or acts as “the aggressor” can not claim self-defence.
Political outcry
Merritt, the attorney for Arbery’s mother, said the US Justice Department should also investigate the death as a hate crime.
“The FBI has said it’s assisting,” said Justice Department spokesman Matt Lloyd, “and as is standard protocol, we look forward to working with them should information come to light of a potential federal violation.”
The killing has drawn calls for justice from state and national authorities across the political spectrum.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp late Tuesday threw his support behind the GBI probe. He tweeted: “Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.”

.⁦@GBI_GA⁩ Director Reynolds has offered resources & manpower to D.A. Durden to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death of #AhmaudArbery. Georgians deserve answers. State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served. https://t.co/ktLiPf7LoY
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 6, 2020

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, also a Republican, spoke out as well.
“Based on the video footage and news reports that I have seen, I am deeply concerned with the events surrounding the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery,” Carr said in a statement. “I expect justice to be carried out as swiftly as possible.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, also weighed in. “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,” Biden tweeted, referring to the death as a “murder”.

The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder. https://t.co/alvY5WjdHx
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 6, 2020

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a figurehead of the left-wing of the Democratic party, said in a tweet Thursday morning that Arbery was “murdered for being Black”. 
The Arbery family “deserves justice”, Ocasio-Cortez said. “Our country deserves answers.”

Ahmaud Arbery was murdered for being Black. His White assailants were allowed to roam free *for months* after lynching him. They faced no charges, no arrests. Police had video of Ahmaud’s murder the day it happened. His family deserves justice. Our country deserves answers.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 7, 2020

Jackie Johnson, the district attorney for Glynn County, recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator in her office.
George Barnhill, the first outside prosecutor on the case, stepped aside in mid-April at the urging of Arbery’s family. Barnhill has a son who works as an assistant prosecutor for Johnson.
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