The Ahmaud Arbery murder has entered a new phase—the federal trial for hate crimes. Federal prosecutors initially offered a deal that would have allowed the defendants to spend the first 30 years of their sentence in “club fed” rather than state prison, but Arbery’s family but a stop to that. The judge overseeing the federal case, Lisa Wood, agreed with the family and gave the defendants the opportunity to withdraw their pleas and go to trial, which they accepted.
That trial is now underway, and the question for the federal jury is whether this murder was a hate crime. Given the facts of the case that came out during the murder trial, it is difficult to see this murder in any other light. Associated Press reported on the proceedings to date, and it sounds like things are not looking good for these defendants. It does not help that a police officer who viewed the security video testified in the case, telling the jury that no evidence existed that Arbery had stolen anything, but the evidence against these defendants did not end there.
AP reported that approximately two dozen text messages and social media posts revealed that Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan frequently used racial slurs, made derogatory comments about Black people, and in some instances, described violence against Black people. A toolbox affixed to Travis McMichael’s truck displayed a Confederate flag, and the truck’s vanity plate contained the old Georgia flag, which featured the Confederate emblem—at least until it as removed. Hey, if you are a racist, don’t try to change things simply because you have been busted. Apparently, McMichael thought removing the tag would make a difference. For his part, Bryan admitted that he had never seen Arbery before and, in his own testimony, said: “I just figured he’d stolen something.” Yeah, all Black people steal or are generally up to no good, at least in the eyes of a racist.
One of the prosecutors on the case, Christopher Parras, made a true and telling statement: “There’s a big difference between being vigilant and being a vigilante. It’s important for you to understand the full depth of the defendants’ racial hatred.” He went on to point out that the defendants were not chasing Arbery because he was doing anything wrong but because “they assumed he had because he was Black.” It is obvious that the McMichaels went after Arbery because he was Black, and it was further obvious that they had no use for Blacks. One woman testified that while in the Coast Guard under the supervision of Travis McMichael, he called her an “n lover” because she had dated a Black man. Yet another woman testified that when she remarked on the death of Julian Bond, Greg McMichael said: “All those Blacks are nothing but trouble.” They saw Ahmaud Arbery as one of those Blacks that “are nothing but trouble” and they made the decision to rid the world of him. They deserve to be convicted of a hate crime because they are guilty.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years