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Federal hate crime charges set for killers of Black jogger in US

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A demonstration in memory of the young Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, in Brunswick, Georgia./AFP
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Apr 29, 2021 - 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON — The US Justice Department announced federal hate crime and kidnapping charges Wednesday for three white men accused of killing a 25-year-old African American jogger in Georgia.

The three men, Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis, 35, and William Bryan, 51, are already facing state murder charges for following Ahmaud Arbery in their pickup truck as he ran through a neighborhood and then stopping and shooting him on February 23, 2020.

In the federal case, each of the three was charged with one count of interference with Arbery’s rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping.

The indictment alleges that the three “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The two McMichaels were also charged with firearms violations.

The Arbery case was one of several that fueled the nationwide protests against police abuse of African Americans in 2020 which were ignited by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that May.

Initially Arbery’s death appeared to have been covered up by local investigators, and the three men were not arrested or charged.

It was only nearly three months later, after a video they took of their pursuit of Arbery leaked out and sparked outrage, that state law enforcement became involved and brought charges.

Meanwhile in February Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper filed a $1 million civil suit against the three defendants as well as local police and prosecutors who she said tried to cover up the murder.

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