GLYNN COUNTY, Ga, – Following a hearing in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, demonstrators gathered Thursday outside the Glynn County Courthouse.
A group of young people could be seen standing on the steps of the courthouse and holding signs while another large group stood in a lawn nearby. And dozens marched in honor of Arbery.
“These are some of the neighborhoods he grew up in. What you see is him. He loved everybody, no matter what color you are,” said Kevin Smith, Arbery’s cousin.
During Thursday’s hearing, a state investigator alleged that a white man, Travis McMichael, was heard saying a racist slur as he stood over Arbery’s body, moments after fatally shooting the black man with a pump-action shotgun.
In a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a murder trial, the lead Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent in the case testified that Travis and Greg McMichael and a third man in another pickup, William “Roddie” Bryan, used their trucks to chase down and box in Arbery, who repeatedly reversed directions and ran into a ditch while trying to escape.
“Pursued, hunted -- those are the words I would use,” said Special Agent Richard Dial said.
Travis McMichael then got out of his truck and confronted Arbery, later telling police he shot him in self-defense after Arbery refused his order to get on the ground, Dial said. A close examination of the video of the shooting shows the first shot was to Arbery’s chest, the second was to his hand, and the third was to his chest again before he collapsed in the road in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Dial said.
“Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement, ‘f - - - - - g n - - - - r,’” Dial said.
Dial said he has also seen “many” other examples of Travis McMichael using the “n-word" on social media.
At the conclusion of the probable cause hearing Thursday, Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell found that there was enough evidence for the cases against all three defendants to proceed.
When asked what he thought about the hearing, Smith, Arbery’s cousin, said: “They did their job. They did what they were supposed to do.”
The testimony presented Thursday could factor into a federal investigation into whether hate crime charges are warranted.
“Just seeing the evidence, it was a hate crime. And we’re pushing for hate crime legislation, we’re pushing for citizen’s arrest to be repealed, for criminal justice reform and police accountability,” said Julie Jordan, a member of the Brunswick NAACP.
Demonstrators said they’re hoping Arbery’s death will help stop racism in Brunswick and throughout the United States.
“We’re trying to put an end to it. We need equal rights,” said Rico Collins.
Smith said: “We’re inspiring the world right now."
Arbery’s supporters said they won’t stop fighting for justice.