Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery chased and “stuck like a rat”

A little more than four months after the conviction of Derek Chauvin, a second trial with a strong racial dimension opened in the United States on Friday. The three white men tried for the murder of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, in Georgia, “cornered him like a rat” on the basis of “mere suspicion”, before killing him, the accusation said on Friday. A drama that had contributed, with the murder of George Floyd, to the vast mobilization against racism in the summer of 2020.

After two and a half weeks of jury selection, the parties began making their case to the twelve jurors – including one black man after a controversial proceeding – in court in Brunswick, a city in Georgia.

“Simple presumptions”

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was jogging in an affluent area of ​​this coastal town, when he was chased by two pick-ups: a father and his son, armed, Gregory and Travis McMichael was found in the first, one of their neighbor, William Bryan in the other.

The three defendants, aged 65, 35 and 52 respectively, made impulsive decisions “on the basis of mere presumptions” and ended up “taking the life of this young man,” said prosecutor Linda Dunikoski in her introduction. , by slipping several allusions to the racial dimension of the file.

“Greg McMichael sees him running really fast down the street and what does he do? He decides to go get a weapon “, she noted in particular:” He imagines the worst, he thinks that this stranger, this black man who runs in the street, has a weapon “. According to her, her son could have dissuaded him, but on the contrary, he grabbed a gun and left with him. “This is the second thoughtless decision,” she said. As for their neighbor, he tinkers on his porch, when he sees the father and the son chasing Ahmaud Arbery. “He has absolutely no idea what’s going on, but he joins the McMichaels in their hunt. “

“Stop or I’ll blow you up the box”

Together, “they chase him, cut off his route”, William Bryan “rushes at him, pushes him into the ditch”. Father McMichael yells at him, “Stop where I’m blowing the caisson!” “. “He was stuck like a rat,” added the prosecutor, using the words of an accused. “Mr. Arbery was attacked for five minutes and all he did was flee. But in the end, Travis McMichael opened fire, she added: the young jogger “didn’t fall right away, he tried to grab the rifle and a second shot was fired”.

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In her presentation, the prosecutor also tried to preempt the defense arguments. The three men plead not guilty. They claim to have taken Ahmaud Arbery for a burglar and invoke a law in Georgia which, at the time, authorized ordinary citizens to make arrests. The young jogger had entered a house under construction several times before the tragedy, but the defendants “knew that they had not stolen anything, that he had not committed any crime”, retorted the prosecutor.

“Confederate flag”

For nearly three months after Ahmaud Arbery’s death, the services of the local prosecutor, for whom Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, had worked for a long time, had not made any arrests. It took the broadcast of the video of the drama, relayed massively on social networks in early May 2020, for the investigation to be entrusted to the state police. Shortly after, the three men were arrested and charged with “murder” and “arbitrary arrest”.

Frescoes, slogans, portraits: the young jogger has become an emblematic figure of the Black Lives Matter movement (black lives matter). “A black man should be able to jog without fearing for his life,” Democratic President Joe Biden even tweeted on the first anniversary of his death. The issue of racism could be tackled more head-on later, with the judge allowing the prosecution to present a photo of Travis McMichael’s pickup. The license plate features a large Confederate flag, a symbol of the southern slave states during the Civil War.

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