The hottest social media and news topic remains Ahmaud Arbery.
The motto that still tops social media posts: “You know, they didn’t make arrests because they saw the video, they made the arrests because we saw the video. Remember that.”
“If you know racism is real in America, I hope you don’t see the video of Ahmaud Arbery being murdered. It crushed me,” said Iowa state auditor and former Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand, who is white.
“If you think racism is something in the past … you need to witness what others live in fear of. Watch it,” Sand said.
NBA superstar LeBron James also expressed his outrage.
“We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog, man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man [for real] ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!” James wrote on his social media accounts, including the hashtags #StayWoke and #ProfiledCauseWeAreSimplyBlack and two tear-faced emojis.
William Bryan, the individual who recorded Arbery’s murder, reported that he’d been the target of multiple death threats since police began investigating the shooting.
“It was Mr. Bryan who videotaped the incident in question, disclosed the existence of the videotape, and invited a responding Glynn County Police Officer to sit with him in his truck where they watched the video together,” Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough said in a statement.
The graphic video shows the confrontation between Arbery and two men before the shooting that left Arbery dead in Brunswick, Georgia.
The men — father and son Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34 — were arrested last week and face charges of murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s killing on Feb. 23, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Civil rights attorneys Benjamin L. Crump of Tallahassee, Florida, and S. Lee Merritt of Philadelphia, who represent Arbery’s father and mother, respectively, both wondered what took so long and why only two arrests have been made. They also questioned why the individual who shot the video hadn’t been arrested.
The case, which was initially exposed two months ago by Black Press journalist Nsenga Burton, exploded into the national spotlight this month after the lawyers began sharing a video of the shooting in local and social media.
“I believe that the video was all the probable cause you needed to arrest this murderous father-son duo,” Crump said in a television interview from his office in Tallahassee. “Those arrests took 74 days.”
Crump said law enforcement officers had seen from the beginning the video taken from the dashboard of a vehicle trailing behind Arbery as he jogged down a Glynn County road on Feb. 23, according to Law.com.
The video shows a pickup truck stop in the road just ahead of Arbery.
As Arbery, who was Black, approaches and tries to run around the truck, two white men jump out. One points a shotgun at Arbery. The other stands in the back, pointing a handgun. Shots are fired.
Arbery keeps trying to run away but falls in the road a few steps in front of the truck, never to regain consciousness.
“Law enforcement officers saw the video because they had it from day one in February,” Crump said. The arrests came only after the video went public Tuesday, May 5 — the same day Crump took on the case.
“It’s because we saw the video,” Crump said, according to Law.com. “That’s why we got an arrest finally after all these days — even though these men chased him with a shotgun and a .357 Magnum, and they executed Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight.”
Merritt said the reaction to the video made the difference.
“I don’t think there would have been an arrest if there wasn’t outcry,” Merritt said in a tweet. “The video was already in the hands of investigators. … Those who raised their voices … that was the turning point.”
“When you look at the video, it harkens back to yesteryears — things we thought we had overcome in America,” Crump said. “It looks like a lynch mob.”
Crump said the case bears a chilling similarity to that of Trayvon Martin, the Black teenager killed by a neighbor in Florida while walking home in 2012.
In both cases, Crump said, the shooters claimed justification because they were suspicious that the young Black men were involved in recent neighborhood burglaries. Yet neither were armed or connected to any crime.
“This tragedy cannot be undone, but this is the first step in what I am confident will be a swift road to justice,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement. “We are grateful the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken quick and decisive action.”