Three men charged with federal hate crimes
The US justice department has indicted three men on federal hate crime charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging when he was shot and killed in Brunswick on 23 February last year. Arbery’s family characterized his death as a modern-day lynching.
Former police officer Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51, were each charged on Wednesday with interference with rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
The criminal case charging the three men in connection with Arbery’s death is the most significant civil rights prosecution undertaken by the Biden administration justice department to date.
It comes as federal officials have moved quickly to open sweeping investigations into troubled police departments as civil rights takes center stage among the department’s priorities.
Arbery’s death sparked fury after his murder was caught on video and went viral on social media in May 2020, about 10 weeks after he was killed. Many expressed outrage at the time that no one had been arrested.
Later, all three men were charged in state court with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. All three pleaded not guilty. A trial date for the state charges has not yet been set.
Arbery was killed after the McMichaels followed him in their truck while he was jogging in a residential area. Gregory McMichael told police that he suspected Arbery was a burglar and had armed themselves. Bryan followed in his own vehicle and recorded video footage on his phone.
One year after his death, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, filed a lawsuit against prosecutors, law enforcement officers and the three men charged with murdering her son alleging that they engaged in a cover-up.
The jury’s guilty verdict on the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd signaled the conclusion of a historic police brutality trial and a key moment for policing and for the battle for racial equality in America. Observers have talked about this case being so significant that it will stand as a watershed between the way law enforcement was held to account in the US before George Floyd was pinned by the neck under Chauvin’s knee, and after.
The Brooklyn Center police chief and the white cop who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday after apparently mistaking her handgun for a Taser have both resigned. “I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” Potter said in a letter announcing her resignation to Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot and other city officials. Police Chief Tim Gannon has resigned from the department.
The Wisconsin national guard was deployed to Kenosha on Monday in advance of more protests expected after a man appeared to have been shot several times in the back by the city’s police on Sunday.