Written by Rita Thompson
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two white men on Feb. 23rd, 2020, while taking his Sunday morning jog in Brunswick, Ga. His death occurred just three days before the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida.
A Modern-Day Lynching
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper explained to CNN that her son had gone for a run. Arbery was a former high school football star, and routinely took jogs throughout the southwest Georgia neighborhood.
“He was not armed,” Cooper said.
On February 23rd, however, a 911 call regarding, “a Black male running down the street,” was made. The caller deemed Arbery a threat, and stated he might be responsible for a string of burglaries in the area.
“There’s been break-ins out here,” the caller says. “There’s a guy in a house right now. It’s a house under construction.”
“That’s fine. I’ll get them out there,” the operator responds. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong. Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?”
Travis and Gregory McMichael, the accused murderers, got into their truck with a shotgun and pistol, and went after the unarmed 25-year-old, who they told police they believed was the burglar.
Minutes later, Arbery was dead.
Prosecutors previously declined to file charges against either Travis or his father, Gregory, a former police officer and investigator at the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office.
After a video showing Arbery’s final moments surfaced, social media flooded with outrage and questions. What could have possibly prompted this tragedy? And why had two months passed without an arrest?
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Outrage from the public and Arbery’s attorney, Lee Merrit, has led to the arrest of the McMichaels.
Greg and Travis were both arrested on Thursday night, May 7th, and charged with murder and aggravated assault. They have been booked in the Glynn County Jail. However, it is still unclear exactly how much time the McMichaels could serve if found guilty.
This is the mugshots of Gregory and Travis McMichael, arrested and charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
— Hamdia Ahmed (@hamdia_ahmed) May 8, 2020
The prosecution argued that the McMichaels were, “acting out of self-defense and within the scope of Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statue.”
However, Lee Merrit, Arbery’s attorney, said he would stop at nothing to bring justice for Arbery and his family.
“These men were vigilantes, they were a posse, and they were performing a modern lynching in the middle of the day,” Merrit explained to 11Alive. “Some obscure, indistinct crime in the past in the community, does not empower the entire community to hunt down Black people.”
Tweets with the hashtag #IStandwithAhmaud are continuing to fight for justice of not only Arbery, but the average of three people that are shot by police every day.
Arbery’s high school football coach, Jason Vaughn, asked supporters to honor Arbery by going for a run of 2.23 miles to represent the day he was murdered. Vaughn asks that runners share their journey via social media with the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.
The running community in South Carolina and states across the country took part in the tribute on Friday, May 8th, what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday.
In addition to Friday’s run, the Run with Ahmaud campaign is asking supporters to sign a petition urging the prosecution to address Arbery’s death as a homicide.
“No one has the right to pursue, attack and kill an unarmed, non-threatening individual. Ahmaud’s voice will be heard,” reads the petition on Change.org.
Many are also sharing a quote from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, who says the killing sickened her to her core, and stated, “Exercising while Black shouldn’t be a death sentence.”
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Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has experienced injustice. Ahmaud’s 26th birthday was yesterday, Friday May 8th. Special prayers go out to his mother for Mother’s Day 🌹. #Repost @ohhappydani ・・・ His name is Ahmaud Arbery. Learn his story. Mourn with those who mourn. Seek justice. 🤍 #IRunWithMaud #AhmaudArbery
The harsh reality is that people of color continue to face discrimination at every corner in America. Whether it be police brutality, or War on Drugs, the impact of discriminatory law enforcement is seen across the nation. How many more Black lives need to be memorialized as a hashtag before we see change?