Getting convictions against the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery was easy. Here are a few reasons why.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was murdered in Glynn County, Georgia. Arbery had been pursued by three white residents, Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael, who was armed and in one vehicle. William Bryan, who was in another vehicle, recorded the pursuit on his phone.
Gregory McMichael spotted Arbery, who was out for an afternoon jog, and McMichael claimed that he resembled a possible suspect who was responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood. This led to the pursuit.
Considered a modern-day lynching, the men claimed that they were performing a citizen’s arrest in their pursuit of Arbery.
However, under the citizen’s arrest law in Georgia, an individual could detain someone they had seen committing a serious crime and if the suspect was trying to escape. Surveillance cameras do not show Arbery committing any crime or escaping from the scene of a crime before his untimely death.
A citizen’s arrest must be made on immediate knowledge of a crime and not assumptions.
The defense backed their actions, citing self-defense as the primary reason for Arbery’s death. However, McMichaels’ self-defense claim was bogus and highlighted the problem with Georgia’s version of a “Stand Your Ground” law. A person cannot create an altercation, then make a self-defense claim. That is not how the law works.
Bryan and the McMichaels followed Arbery and continuously cornered him off with their trucks instead of relying on law enforcement to assess the situation. They placed themselves in the conflict.
The murder of Arbery was based on assumptions and racism, not on facts. After the shooting, Bryan told investigators that he heard Travis McMichael use a racial slur, fulfilling the notion that the killing was motivated by race.
The defendants had no prior knowledge that it was Arbery who committed the alleged break-ins. They simply saw a Black man and stereotyped him.
Travis McMichael’s use of the Confederate flag license plate on his truck, persistent following and brandishing of a firearm to incite intimidation, the alleged use of racial slurs while Arbery lay dying on the ground, and Gregory McMichael’s statement, “You had no choice,” addressed to his son as the first police officer approached the scene, not only proves that the defendants are racist, but it proves that they should face federal hate crime charges.