On Feb. 23, 2020 Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, was killed as he jogged down a neighbourhood street in Satilla Shores, Georgia.
Arbery, 25, was jogging when he was chased by a truck driven by Gregory McMichael, 64, a retired police detective, and his son Travis, 34. A confrontation resulted in Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times.
Arbery is remembered by his parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper, as a, “good, generous young man with a big heart.” He was a former high school football player and his father said he often exercised in the area.
Cooper, upon seeing the video of the final moments of Arbery’s life, said, “I often imagine the last minutes of my son’s life. I didn’t imagine it would be that harsh.”
“… It’s hard to know that he had to go through that after he had ran. He actually ran for his life. Then when he couldn’t run anymore, he had to fight, and then after he fought, he was killed,” Cooper said.
“Mr. Arbery had not committed any crime and there was no reason for these men to believe they had the right to stop him with weapons or to use deadly force in furtherance of their unlawful attempted stop,” Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing Arbery’s mother, said in a statement.
The McMichaels and another man, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., were eventually charged in relation to Arbery’s death, more than two months after the incident.
The McMichaels are charged with malice and felony murder charges, as well as counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. They both pleaded not guilty and claimed to be conducting a citizen’s arrest and acting in self-defence when Arbery died.
Bryan Jr., who recorded a video of Arbery’s final moments, allegedly hit Arbery when he joined the McMichaels in the chase. He pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment and felony murder.
Public outcry erupted across the U.S. when District Attorneys initially refused to arrest the McMichaels or Bryan.
Attorneys for Arbery’s family claim he was racially profiled.
“We want an immediate arrest because we don’t think there should be two justice systems in America – one for Black America and one for white America,” said Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Arbery family.
“Ahmaud Arbery’s life matters, and the fact that you have proof of the crime, you have a video … Black people get arrested everyday with far less evidence,” Crump said.
The governor of Georgia announced on Feb. 16, 2021 he was overhauling the citizen’s arrest laws in that state. The new law clarifies the need for the citizen to call law enforcement when making a citizen’s arrest, and also clarifies when a citizen can detain someone.
On Feb. 23, 2021 the one-year anniversary of Arbery’s death, his family will hold a candlelight vigil at his gravesite. On Feb. 27, a parade will be held in his honour.
SOURCES: BBC.COM, CNN.COM, NEWS4JAX.COM, THEGUARDIAN.COM, USATODAY.COM