By Zoe Singer ‘23, Assistant News Editor
On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, was out on his daily jog in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was shot and killed by a white man named Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis. The McMichaels were arrested on May 7th after a video depicting Arbery’s murder surfaced. When the video was released, protests against the violence broke out in Georgia, and Americans under shelter-in-place orders took to social media to express their anger, frustration, and fear about the incident. William Bryan, the man who recorded the video, was also arrested for murder on May 21st.
The short video clip shows the two armed white men getting out of their pickup truck and pursuing Arbery, who attempted to defend himself but was ultimately killed. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, expressed in an interview, “I saw my son come into the world, and seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I’ll want to see ever.” Jones added that what makes her son’s death even more painful is that because of the coronavirus pandemic, most Georgia courts are closed for the foreseeable future, so she cannot yet seek justice for her child. Many, including Arbery’s father, have described the incident as a “modern-day lynching.” The McMichaels are being charged with murder and aggravated assault.
When asked why they killed Arbery, the McMichaels told state officials that Arbery looked like a man who had recently committed a burglary and they wanted to catch him. They claimed that they killed Arbery out of self-defense, though Arbery is peacefully jogging on the side of the road in the video.
The lawyers for Arbery’s family have requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the killing as a hate crime, not just a local felony. Though unfortunately Arbery’s parents are unable to file a civil lawsuit against the city because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp assured Americans that as soon as it is safe for courts to reopen, “State law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.”