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3 men involved in Ahmaud Arbery shooting charged with federal hate crimes

These are the most significant civil rights charges to be handed down by the new U.S. administration to date

More than a year after Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while running near his home in Brunswick, Ga., the three accused have also now been indicted on federal hate crime charges. Travis McMichael, 35, Gregory McMichael, 65 and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51 have been charged with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels have also been charged with one count each of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and Travis McMichael was charged with discharging the firearm.

Mural representing Ahmaud Arbery, by Kizmet Gabriel and Francis Pratt. Photo: Warren Wheeler

RELATED: One year ago today, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while running in Georgia

Arbery’s death not only helped fuel the hundreds of racial justice protests that took place across the country last year, but led to a reckoning about racism in the running world. The charges that have been laid against these three men (who are white) are the most significant be handed down by the U.S. federal government with regards to civil rights protections in the country.

The eight-page indictment detailed the events that took place on Feb. 23, 2020, with the following statement:

“Count One of the indictment alleges that as Arbery was running on a public street in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood of Brunswick, Georgia, Travis and Gregory McMichael armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck, and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighbourhood while yelling at him, using their truck to cut off his route, and threatening him with firearms. Count One also alleges that the offence resulted in Arbery’s death. Count Two alleges that William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and used his truck to cut off Arbery’s route.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said that although the length of time it took to finally get here was discouraging, she and her family were grateful to see the indictments go through, and throughout the entire process, they never gave up hope.

“He was killed because of hate. It was initiated by hate,” she said. “We look at this as one step closer to justice for Ahmaud.”

All three defendants have also been charged in a separate state proceeding with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. No trial has been set for either the state or the federal charges, but the state trials will likely take place first.

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