Are Ahmaud Arbery’s killers just killers, or are they racist killers?
This is the main question that jurors in the federal hate crime case, which began on Monday, will have to answer within the next two weeks.
While many people in Glyn and Brunswick counties, including the Ahmoud Arbery family, believe it should be an open case, the bar is high for federal prosecutors prosecuting Travis and Greg McMichael and their ex. a neighbor of Satil Shores, William “Roddy” Brian, to prove this fact beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury, gathered to hear testimony in the Federal Court building on Gloucester Street in downtown Brunswick, are citizens from all 43 counties in the Southern District of Georgia, from Augusta to Dublin to Richmond Hill. The 12 members of the jury include 8 whites, 3 blacks and 1 Hispanic.
The other four jurors are deputies, people who will be able to determine guilt or innocence if a 12-member commission member falls ill or apologizes for other reasons during the trial, which is expected to last 7 to 12 days.
All three defendants are charged with one count of interfering in Arbery’s civil rights and one attempted kidnapping. McMichael was also charged under one article with the use, carrying and sweeping of firearms, and Travis McMichael faces additional charges of using firearms during and in connection with the violence. Every man did not admit his guilt.
The prosecution quickly set out its case, pointing to the private conversations and often repeated views of each of the three defendants against blacks, the pattern of behavior, language and opinion that even each man’s defense attorneys admitted as jurors were “condemned. ”
Bobby Bernstein, a public prosecutor working in the civil rights department of the Ministry of Justice, outlined some evidence of the alleged racist thinking of men in his 30-minute introductory statement Monday afternoon.
She said Travis McMichael called black people “animals,” “criminals,” “monkeys,” “inhuman savages,” and “blacks.”
Bernstein also described a time when Gregory McMichael described his hostility to Georgia’s respected civil rights leader Julian Bond. When he was told of Bond’s death, he told the man he was glad Bond had died because he, like all blacks, was “troubled.” This witness will be presented in court later in the trial.
As for Brian, the prosecutor said his racial animosity was clearly evident in the days leading up to the brutal and fatal chase on Arber, when he fled through Satila Shores on February 23, 2020. Brian recently learned that his daughter is dating a Black man whom Brian called a “monkey”.
Each of the three attorneys focused their introductory remarks by admitting to the unpleasant statements and views of their clients and distancing themselves from such behavior.
Gregory McMichael’s lawyer, AJ Balbo, said his client was not an “angel” but was not a racist. Balba said Arbury was watched not because he was a black man, but because he was a “man” whom McMichals recognized in a security video who broke into a neighbor’s house under construction. “
“Ahmaud Arberi’s assassination was a tragic and horrific event that should not have happened and could have been prevented in many ways,” Balba told the jury.
Both prosecutors and lawyers have also said that while racist insults and vocabulary have been condemned, they are not illegal – a consensus that points to difficulties in passing hate crimes convictions across the board. America.
Less than 1% of all reported hate crimes go to court, and even fewer lead to conviction. This is largely due to the difficulty of proving to jurors that racism was the main motive for violence or murder, according to experts in criminal justice.
The Tide regularly brings notes and observations to The Current staff’s news and events.