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A cross with flowers and a letter A sits at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed May 7, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Two Men Arrested and Charged With Murder for Killing of Ahmaud Arbery After Video Sparked Nationwide Demands for Justice

"These men were vigilantes, they were a posse, they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day."

Jake Johnson

Two men were arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the killing of 25-year-old black man Ahmaud Arbery after a video showing his shooting death in a street in Glynn County, Georgia on Feb. 23 surfaced and went viral on social media this week.

Gregory McMichael, a 64-year-old former police officer, and his son Travis McMichael were taken into custody Thursday evening, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced. The two white men claimed they believed Arbery, who was gunned down while jogging, resembled a burglary suspect.

"These men were not performing any police function or any duty as citizens of Georgia," Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Arbery family, said during a press conference Wednesday. "These men were vigilantes, they were a posse, they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day."

As the New York Times reported late last month before footage of Arbery's killing surfaced, "a prosecutor who had the case for a few weeks told the police that the pursuers had acted within the scope of Georgia's citizen's arrest statute, and that Travis McMichael, who held the shotgun, had acted out of self-defense." During a press conference Wednesday, Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper Jones said she was told by police that her son was shot by a homeowner in the middle of a burglary.

Attorney Daniel Horwitz tweeted late Thursday that the arrest of Arbery's killers "is not attributable to a video."

"It's attributable to a video that prosecutors had long since viewed becoming public," Horwitz wrote. "That distinction should concern you a great deal."

The video of Arbery's killing (warning: the footage is disturbing) sparked nationwide outrage and demands for justice from civil rights groups and lawmakers.

"It's been a numbing state for the family, because we haven't been able to grieve," Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud's sister, said in an appearance on CNN following the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael. "We're in a constant fight mode, because we're trying to receive justice for my brother."

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