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Ahmaud Arbery: How the fatal shooting of a black jogger exposed rising racial tensions in America

Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger, was shot dead in Georgia by two white men who say they were acting in self defence.

Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot in the poorest city in Georgia on Feb 23

At 1.08pm on Feb 23 a resident standing under a tree in his front garden on Satilla Drive, in a leafy suburb of Brunswick, Georgia, placed a call to a non-emergency police number.

The man spoke in a calm southern drawl, describing the scene 20ft across the road to a dispatcher. He did not sound overly concerned. "Er, there's a guy in a house right now, it's under construction ..." he said. "There he goes right now. He's running down the street ... black guy, white T-shirt."

The running man was Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, 25, a former high school American football linebacker, who was out jogging.

Minutes after the call Mr Arbery was dead, shot three times by white armed vigilantes on a suburban street in broad daylight.

Mr Arbery collapses in the street after being shot Credit: Twitter

Mr Arbery's death, which his family called a modern-day lynching, came at a time when racial tensions in America are rising.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频A majority - black and white - describe race relations as "bad". Seventy per cent say things are getting worse, according to Pew Research. In the US black workers still make 82 cents on every dollar earned by white workers. The average white family has 10 times as much wealth as the average black family.

Nowhere are those racial contrasts starker than in Brunswick, a small coastal town of 16,000, two thirds black, one third white.

It is the poorest city in Georgia, with 39 per cent below the poverty line, yet sparkling yachts sit in the marina.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Racial prejudice casts a long shadow over Brunswick. Exactly 129 years before Mr Arbery was shot - on Feb 23, 1891 - two black men were lynched from an oak tree by a mob of 150 white vigilantes. Their bodies were riddled with bullets.

Following the end of segregation half a century ago a local official had the public swimming pool filled with mud, rather than allowing black residents to share it with whites.

Today, the authorities in Brunswick stand accused of turning a blind eye. The white gunmen who shot Mr Arbery were only arrested two-and-a-half months later, when shocking mobile phone footage of the incident emerged.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Why Mr Arbery had gone inside the partially built structure in a white area remains a mystery. He took nothing, and there was nothing to take. Security video showed him seemingly examining the structure. He wanted to be an electrician, and might have been looking at wiring. There was also a tap, and he may simply have stopped to get a mid-jog drink.

As he left and ran on, under trees bedecked with Spanish moss, he passed a home a few doors down, at 230 Satilla Drive.

The owner, Greg McMichael, 64, was on his lawn. Mr McMichael, who is white, had been a local police officer for seven years, and an investigator for the prosecutor's office for 30 years.

It was the second time he had seen Mr Arbery in the vicinity of the under-construction home.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Mr McMichael grabbed his .357 Magnum. His son Travis McMichael, 34, took a shotgun, they hopped in their pickup truck and followed.

Greg McMichael, a former police officer, and his son Travis said they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of a burglary suspect Credit: Glynn County Detention Center

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频While in the truck, at 1.14pm, Mr McMichael called 911. "There's a black male running down the street..." he told the operator. Then he can be heard shouting: "Drop that. Dammit! Stop. Drop it!". The phone stayed on but there was no sound for three minutes until the sirens of police cars, sent by the first dispatcher, arrived.

Already at the scene were two other men. One was Roddy Bryan, 50, who lives around the corner and knows the McMichaels. He filmed the shooting on his mobile phone. The other was Diego Perez, whose house Mr Arbery also ran past. He described arriving and seeing a body lying in the road.

According to a police report Mr McMichael told officers he and his son were attempting to perform a citizens' arrest of a suspected burglar. The suspect "violently attacked" his son and the gun went off, he said. The McMichaels were not arrested, and went home.

The local district attorney, Jackie Johnson, recused herself from the case because Mr McMichael worked as an investigator in her own office.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频A second prosecutor concluded the McMichaels had "solid cause" to pursue their suspect, were "allowed to use deadly force" to protect themselves, and there were "no grounds for arrest".

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频However, he then recused himself when it transpired his son, also a prosecutor, had worked with Greg McMichael for years.

The case was then handed to a third prosecutor, and nothing happened.

Eventually, on May 5, the video of the shooting recorded by Mr Bryan - which had been seen by police and prosecutors and not acted upon - was leaked.

The video was leaked by Greg McMichael himself because he apparently believed it would exonerate him as rumours about what had happened swirled around Brunswick.

It showed the McMichaels' truck blocking Mr Arbery, him running around it, then a scuffle in which he was shot by Travis McMichael before collapsing on the road.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频A national outcry followed, including from celebrity justice campaigner Kim Kardashian.

Armed Black Panthers, observing social distancing, joined demonstrators walking down Satilla Drive.

"You think they would have shot me if I was running through their goddamn neighbourhood?" one Black Panther carrying an assault rifle told local television. "Well I’m gonna give them an opportunity."

Heavily armed members of the Black Panther Party demonstrate on Satilla Drive   Credit: Getty

On May 7 - two days after the video came out - the McMichaels were finally arrested.

A more senior prosecutor was drafted in from Atlanta, Georgia's biggest city. Joyette Holmes - who is black - said she would pursue murder charges.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频"[Without the video] I believe it would have been covered up," Wanda Cooper-Jones, Mr Arbery's mother, said. "I do think there are prejudices and racism but I had never worried about my son. Maybe he would be pulled over by a cop in his car, but never did I worry that he would be out jogging and shot."

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频She called for the death penalty.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Rev. James Woodall, Georgia president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], said: "The modern-day lynching of Mr Arbery is yet another reminder of the vile and wicked racism that persists in parts of our country."

Ryan Marshall, 27, a young black man who lives in Brunswick, said prejudice was rife in the city and he had been called racial slurs.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频He said: "The difference between me and Ahmaud is I live a life where I take tippy-toe steps to avoid things. [But] I shouldn’t have to live in fear."

The vacant lot at 220 Satilla Drive, which Mr Arbery walked into, is minutes from Sea Island, where President George W. Bush hosted the G8 summit in 2004.

It was advertised as a place to build the "river front home of your dreams". Property records show the land was purchased by Larry English, in June 2016 for $120,000.

Police cars at a sign welcoming visitors to Brunswick, Georgia Credit: Getty

When the shooting happened Mr English was at his other home two hours away. He received an alert on his phone that a security camera had been activated, but was distracted looking after his bee hives.

According to his lawyer, Elizabeth Graddy, his "hands were covered with honey, and he had to wash the honey off".

Eventually, Mr English rang a friend on Satilla Drive and asked: "Is somebody in my house?" The neighbour responded: "They’ve killed him.”

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频In a statement Ms Graddy said Mr English did not know the McMichaels, and had never asked them to monitor his construction project.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频However, long before the shooting local police had sent him a text message saying if there were any problems with trespassing, he could call Greg McMichael "day or night".

Ms Graddy said: "My professional opinion was that this was a murder.

"The homeowners were shocked and deeply saddened by these events, which they learned of after-the-fact. They are heartsick for Mr Arbery’s mother and father. Larry English and his family are praying for the Arberys."

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Mr Arbery's mother [L] and his sister Jasmine Arbery Credit: Getty

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频In recent days further details have emerged, which may complicate a prosecution of the McMichaels.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频On the evening of Feb 11, Travis McMichael, was driving his red pickup truck past the partially built house when he saw an intruder go inside. He called 911.

Breathing heavily, he told the dispatcher: "I just caught a guy running into a house being built. He reached into his pocket and ran into the house. So I don’t know if he’s armed or not. But...he was acting like he was."

The intruder then drove off in a vehicle. Security footage suggests it was Mr Arbery.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Mr Arbery had been arrested in 2012 for bringing a gun into a high school basketball game in Brunswick. He was sentenced to five years’ probation. However, he was not armed when he was shot.

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频A lawyer for Greg McMichael said he and his son were the victims of a "rush to judgment" and "the truth will come out".

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Franklin Hogue said: "This is a tragedy that, at first, appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life. This case does not fit that pattern."

2018国产亚洲精品免费视频Jason Sheffield, a lawyer for Travis McMichael, said: "We know that there are strong opinions, we know there is anger, we know there is outrage.

"Right now we are starting at the end. We know the ending. What we don’t know is the beginning. In this case the entire nation is investigating. We will find the truth and we will bring that truth out, not here but in the courtroom.”

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