UPDATE 8:35 E.T. 5/7/2020
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested on Wednesday evening for the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation based on a NBC News report.
Both were taken into custody and face charges of aggravated assault and murder.
Arbery was killed while he was unarmed jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood on February 23. Both men remained without consequence as the coronavirus pandemic swelled around the nation. But all of that changed on Tuesday, May 5, when a video capturing Arbery’s last moments was leaked on the internet, showing that Arbery was not a threat as he enjoyed his afternoon jog. The aggressors were the McMichaels.
Arbery’s death spurred another national conversation regarding how the Black body is seen as disposable to those who exert unfounded beliefs regarding race and culture.
Video of Ahmaud Arbery’s Lynching Prompts Prosecutor To Bring Charges Before A Grand Jury
On Tuesday night authorities promised to present evidence before a grand jury in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was pursued, confronted and then subsequently fatally shot by a white father-son duo outside of Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23 around 1 p.m.
Prosecutor Tom Durden released a statement after horrifying video evidence emerged of the incident, showing Arbery’s last moments on camera after he came into contact with Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, while jogging in a surrounding neighborhood.
“After careful review of the evidence, I am of the opinion that the case should be presented to the grand jury of Glynn County for consideration of criminal charges,” Durden said in a statement obtained by The New York Times.
In the video Arbery is seen running while he comes in contact with a white truck. A man can be seen standing in front of the driver’s side door, which is open. A second man sits in the bed of the trunk. Arbery can be seen running out of the view before he is seen again in a physical confrontation with the man by the driver side door, while three shotgun blasts fire off. In the last clip, Arbery falls to the ground in the middle of the street.
“This is murder,” said S. Lee Merrit, a lawyer for Arbery’s family in a statement. “The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release.”
Both men have yet to be arrested for the shooting, even though local community activists and Arbery’s family have continuously called for justice. On top of that Gregory McMichael is a former police officer, who at one time worked for the local district attorney. The case was assigned to Durden due to former conflict of interest, according to CBS.
In the existing police report, the McMichaels claimed Arbery resembled a burglary suspect who was accused of burglary in the neighborhood. The two told police that they took it upon themselves to pursue Arbery while armed, in their action, they said they Arbery came into psychical contact with them.
“Proves that my son was not committing a crime. He was out for his daily jog and he was hunted down like an animal and killed,” Wanda Jones, Arbery’s mother said in an interview with CBS News when she was incredulously asked what she thought the video would prove.
Arbery’s family contended since his tragic death that he was not at fault and enjoyed his routine running schedule.
Due to the coronavirus, the Georgia Supreme court has forbidden grand juries from meeting through June 12. Durden, says he expects the case to go before a Glynn County grand jury when the directive is lifted.
On social media the triggering reality that a Black life can be snuffed out at any moment, again encouraged a split conversation regarding whether or not the video will result in a semblance of justice, or prevent other future atrocities from being taken out against Black bodies.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Tweeted on Tuesday saying that 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,” he continued.
On Wednesday protesters plan to demonstrate in front of Georgia’s State Capitol in honor of Arbery, following protests which spurred up over Tuesday in the Brunswick neighborhood as the video began to gain traction.
In the end, Arbery’s Black life mattered and Tuesday’s announcement inches further toward due process. Our community waits with bated breath because we know that due process does not always equal justice.