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Image / Editorial

Ahmaud Arbery: The tragic story behind the photograph flooding our news feed


by Shayna Sappington
12th May 2020
Ahmaud Arbery: The tragic story behind the photograph flooding our news feed

Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in his neighbourhood when he was shot and killed on video. This is why it took over two months for an arrest.


Most of us have seen the above photo of Ahmaud Arbery shared around social media, demanding justice for his murder.

On February 23 around 1pm, 25-year-old Arbery was on one of his daily jogs in his Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood when he was confronted by two white men, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis.

Both McMichael men were armed and claimed they were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest. Burglaries had been reported in the area and they suspected Arbery because he was ‘fleeing’ on foot.

(The McMichaels were allegedly racially motivated and mistook his jogging for a guilty flee from their vigilante justice.)

After a struggle between Arbery and Travis, Arbery was shot and killed. No weapons were found on Arbery’s person.

The Attackers’ Story

Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, explained his version of events to the police and no arrests were made.

When Arbery’s parents were informed of the tragedy, his mother Wanda Jones Cooper was told that her son was killed inside a home during a burglary.

However, footage of the murder was leaked to the public on social media earlier last week showing a different story.

Video Evidence

In the video, Arbery can be seen jogging down the street where a white pick-up truck with two men are waiting for him. Gregory is in the bed of the truck, with a handgun, and Travis is in the driver’s seat with a shotgun.

Arbery then attempts to run around the truck into the shoulder when the camera pans off to the side. Shouts are heard and when the camera refocuses on the scene, Travis and Arbery are struggling over the shotgun, then shots are fired and Arbery collapses.

After seeing clear video evidence of the two attackers, there was soon a public outcry demanding that the McMichaels be arrested.

Conflict of Interest

Two local district attorneys of Brunswick and Waycross counties, who Gregory McMichael used to work with, recused themselves from the case due to conflict of interest.

One spoke out defending the father and son, saying they were acting under Georgia Law when they attempted their arrest.

DA Tom Durden then took over and, after seeing the police’s conflict of interest, immediately called for the aid of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on May 5.

On May 7, the McMichaels were both arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. 

#JusticeForAhmaud

Exactly who leaked the video is unknown, but civil rights lawyer S. Lee Merritt who has been fighting for justice for Arbery, told ABC news it may have been released internally by police or by the McMichaels themselves, who allegedly bragged about the murder afterwards.

If the police had this footage before its anonymous release to the public then why were no arrests made for two months?

Most believe the delay was from both the Georgia police and the DA’s protection of their former colleague, Gregory McMichaels. This is what sparked a social media movement for Arbery.

Public figures like Ellen Degeneres, Lebron James and Alicia Keys called for action on the case.

Others took to the streets to commemorate his would-be 26th birthday on Friday, running 2.23 miles (his death was on February 23) to honour the avid runner and call out for justice for Arbery.

Thankfully, the McMichaels are in custody and hopefully, the fact that this case now has a global following will prevent injustice from occurring. 

 

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