UPDATED April 29, 2021: On Wednesday, a Georgia federal grand jury charged three men with hate crimes in the Georgia shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, 2020. The men chased Arbery down in a truck, attempted to unlawfully detain him, then fatally shot him.
Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, who have said they suspected Arbery was the cause of recent burglaries in their neighborhood, grabbed their guns and chased him down in their truck. William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. also jumped in his truck to assist the McMichaels and allegedly hit Arbery with his truck. He then filmed the violent encounter that led to Arbery being shot at close range with a shotgun.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told CNN, “It’s one step closer to justice. They did the investigation properly and they came out with those indictments. So, my family and I were pleased.”
A video of the incident filled internet screens and news outlets for 10 weeks after the the attack took place. It was only after the video went viral that the assailants were charged.
All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges. They also face charges of murder, malice, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. Their next court appearance will be May, and they will remain in jail in the interim.
ChurchLeaders original article written on May 7, 2020 below.
A graphic video has emerged this week of a Georgia shooting. Two white men, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, cornered a black man named Ahmaud Arbery and shot him at point-blank range. The incident has provoked widespread outrage and grief from many, including Christian leaders, particularly from those in the African American community.
“To be black man in America is, still, to live without liberties,” tweeted Pastor John Onwuchekwa. In a separate tweet, he added, “And in the off chance that we ever forget, or begin to daydream that we’re somehow in less danger, we’re always reminded. Never gently, but forcefully. There’s no way to gently remind someone of horror. Lord, remind us of your goodness!! Please!”
As long as blackness is stigmatized:
– EVERY ONE us “fits the description”
– NOT ONE of us are truly safe.
To be black man in America is,still, to live without liberties.
No peaceful jogs.
No leisurely strolls.
No mindless movement.
Every step on high alert.#AhmaudArbery
— John Onwuchekwa (@JawnO) May 6, 2020
“His name is #AhmadArbery,” said Priscilla Shirer. “Say his name—out loud…We can’t ignore this. It’s wrong & devastating.”
His name is #AhmadArbery.
Say his name – out loud.
To our children.
To our grandchildren.
To our neighbors.
In our churches.
To your social media followers.
And out of respect for his mourning mother. 😢
We can’t ignore this. It’s wrong & devastating.
— Priscilla Shirer (@PriscillaShirer) May 6, 2020
Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile observed, “Grief this Mother’s Day is likely to be heightened for many. There are those who have lost mothers or children with COVID-19. And there are those suffering violent losses, like the mother of #AhmaudArbery.”
Grief this Mother’s Day is likely to be heightened for many. There are those who have lost mothers or children with COVID-19. And there are those suffering violent losses, like the mother of #AhmaudArbery. There are all of us watching it all unfold… often alone… confined.
— Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) May 6, 2020
Other Christian leaders of color weighed in on the Georgia shooting, including hip hop artist Propaganda and speaker and author Jackie Hill Perry.
You know how many “descriptions”
I’ve fit for crimes? And by fit the description I mean being a black man. #AhmaudArbery
— Prop (@prophiphop) May 6, 2020
Or in other words, murdered for being black and human… https://t.co/c5o0LNEtAG
— Jackie Hill Perry (@JackieHillPerry) May 7, 2020
What Happened in the Georgia Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery?
The Georgia shooting of Ahmaud Arbery occurred on February 23, although it is just now making widespread news because of the video. According to a police report, Arbery was going for a run in a suburban neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, when he was seen by former police officer and investigator, Gregory McMichael. McMichael thought Arbery looked like someone who had committed several burglaries in the area, so he called 911. He then called his son, Travis, and the two men armed themselves and followed Arbery down the road.
The video (supposedly filmed by a third person known to the McMichaels) shows Arbery jogging up behind a parked truck where the father and son were waiting [Note: The video contains content some may find disturbing]. One man was standing in the bed of the truck, and the other was standing outside of it. The video shows Arbery running around the right side of the truck and then appearing on the opposite side engaged in an altercation with the latter man. A gunshot rings out as the two struggle and then we hear two more shots before Arbery falls to the ground.
So far, neither Gregory McMichael nor his son have been arrested. Before he recused himself from the case, a district attorney assigned to it had argued there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest. The case has since been assigned to a new prosecutor, who has asked for assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and also wants it to go to a grand jury. Grand juries in Georgia are currently unable to meet through June 12, however, because of the coronavirus.
Don’t Avert Your Eyes
Christian leaders outside the African American community have also decried the incident. Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham said, “The ongoing and outrageous violence in America against young African Americans must be stopped. My heart is broken for the family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery.”