Ahmaud Arbery (292783)
Credit: Family photo (left)/Twitter @shaunking

It comes as no surprise in the murder case of Ahmaud Arbery that Travis and Greg McMichael and William Bryan often used demeaning, racist comments in text messages with friends and colleagues.

Their unprovoked attack and killing of Arbery is consistent with the offensive language their attorneys have admitted their clients used. Those derogatory comments are key in the hate crime charges brought against the three in the death of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man gunned down while running through a coastal white Georgia neighborhood in 2020.

The defense attorneys offered their remarks at the beginning of the trial perhaps to defuse and minimize the prosecution’s case. Moreover, they claimed that killing Arbery had nothing to do with his race and was merely an erroneous mistake believing he had committed a crime.

Oddly, the prosecution made no reference to earlier reports that Bryan had heard Travis McMichael utter a racial slur after shooting Arbery.

Our historic annals are replete with violent incidents by white men who take the law into their own hands when it comes to a so-called citizen’s arrest. We know that if a white man was seen jogging through a white neighborhood he would be merely out exercising and not perceived as a perp.

Once he was aware of the lethal circumstances he faced, Arbery was running for his life with no opportunity to explain why he was there and what he was doing. To the McMichaels and Bryan, based on their preconceived feelings about Black men, Arbery was guilty and had to be apprehended—and ultimately killed.

This is not an altogether unfamiliar scenario and we reserve our judgment on the matter and see how it plays out in the courtroom, perhaps with the same verdict reached earlier.

There is speculation the federal trial will last between seven and twelve days.

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