A Georgia prosecutor passed an order to send Ahmaud Arbery's case to a grand jury after the disturbing video surfaced online.
Trigger Warning: Gun Violence, Racism
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was casually jogging in Brunswick, in Glynn County on Georgia’s southeast coast when he was fatally shot by two armed men. The incident took place in February this year. Since then, no charges have been brought about, angering law activists across the country. After a graphic video of the murder surfaced online, a state prosecutor finally made the decision to send the case to a grand jury, The Washington Post reports. Though the men claim that Arbery was thought to be a suspect in a burglary case, advocates argue that this does not absolve the perpetrators of consequences for the victim's death.
“The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release— Ahmaud Arbery was pursued by three white men that targeted him solely because of his race and murdered him without justification. This is murder.” pic.twitter.com/v4TAs0RjO7— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) May 5, 2020
In the video, Arbery is seen running down a street when two white men in a pickup truck pull out their guns and shoot him. Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the victim's family, affirmed in a statement, "The series of events captured in this video confirms what all the evidence indicated prior to its release. Mr. Arbery was pursued by three white men that targeted him solely because of his race and murdered him without justification." The men in the video were identified as Gregory McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son Travis McMichael. The father-son duo told the police in February that they had chased Arbery in their truck. Gregory asked the man to stop. When he didn't, they pulled up beside him in their truck, got out, and murdered him. Reports claim a third man may have also been involved.
Once the video emerged online, Gregory did not respond to requests for comment, whereas the listed number for his son Travis was disconnected. District Attorney Tom Durden urged that Arbery's case be moved to "a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges." The Georgia NAACP said in a statement, "We are grateful to see DA Tom Durden announce his intention to convene a grand jury in this case. However, we will not rest until the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery are behind bars. The fact that the McMichaels have yet to be arrested in this matter is evidence enough for what we all know to be true — justice for all is just not specific enough." Merritt, noting that grand juries were temporarily closed as a result of the ongoing pandemic, called for the McMichaels to be immediately taken into custody pending their indictment. On Monday this week, a judicial emergency across the state of Georgia was extended until June 12.
Additionally, the video sparked outrage amongst the city's residents. Many wondered why the video had only surfaced recently, three months after the shooting took place. On Tuesday, approximately 100 people joined a protest in the streets of the neighborhood where Arbery was shot. The crowd marched towards the McMichaels' home, carrying signs and chanting. The Southern Poverty Law Center called for a federal investigation into the incident "given local law enforcement’s failure to act." The organization’s president and CEO Margaret Huang stated, "That these people have not been charged or held to account in any way speaks volumes about the level of respect that law enforcement in Glynn County has for black lives. The killing of black and brown people must stop, and it begins with each of us demanding accountability and justice."