Before the killing of George Floyd sparked protests across the United States, outrage was already fomenting over the case of Ahmaud Arbery, an African-American Georgia man who was shot and killed on February 23 while he was out jogging. While Floyd died after being arrested by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, the men arrested in the Arbery case were civilians.
And on Thursday, a witness in the case, according to Washington Post reporters Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Annie Gowen, alleges that the shooter used a racial slur while Arbery was dying on the ground.
The men arrested in the case are 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, his 34-year-old son Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan — all of whom were charged with felony murder.
At a hearing in Glynn County, Georgia, on Thursday, a judge listened to evidence while waiting to determine whether or not to go forward with a trial. Prosecutors, according to Wootson and Gowen, told the court they would show that Arbery was "chased, hunted down and ultimately executed" by vigilantes. And a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified that the shooter described Arbery as a "fucking n*****" while he was on the ground dying.
Wootson and Gowen report:
A video of Arbery's death that surfaced last month has further fueled the protests that have spread across the country after the death last week of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Even before Floyd's death in police custody, activists in Georgia took to the streets, angered that it took 74 days and the video of Arbery's death to compel authorities to arrest the father and son now accused of killing him.
Richard Dial, a special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, described, in elaborate detail, the events of February 23 at Thursday's hearing. According to Dial's testimony, Gregory McMichael saw Arbery running and assumed he was responsible for some recent burglaries in the area — and after that, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis chased Arbery in a pickup truck.
Travis McMichael, Dial testified, had a rifle, while his father had a .357 magnum.
On Wednesday, the day before the hearing, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp expressed concerns about the possibility of more civil unrest in Georgia and stressed that security would be increased at Floyd-related demonstrations.
"We will take appropriate action to hold bad actors accountable if they try to infiltrate peaceful gatherings to cause chaos," Kemp announced. "Let me be clear: we will not tolerate disruptive, dangerous behavior or criminal conduct. We will put the safety of Georgians first."