The three white men accused of hunting down and killing Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, were indicted by the Glynn County Grand Jury June 24, four months after his death.
Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddy” Bryan were indicted on five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
During a hearing held June 4, Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said Arbery, who is black, “was chased, hunted down an ultimately executed,” by the McMichaels.
During that hearing Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial, testified Arbery was hit prior to the shooting by the pickup truck Bryan used during his pursuit.
Dial also testified that Bryan heard Travis McMichael call Arbery a racial slur moments after shooting him. Arbery had gunshot wounds to his chest, upper shoulder and hand Dial said.
Immediately following Wednesday’s indictment Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes spoke with the press outside the courthouse.
“This is another positive step,” she said. “Another great step for finding justice for Ahmaud. For finding justice for this family and the community beyond.”
Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough also addressed the media saying he disagrees with the indictments against his client but added it was an important step in moving the case forward to a speedy trial. Gough maintains his client is innocent.
The indictments were handed down just one day after Georgia Legislators passed the state’s Hate Crime Bill. Until its passage Tuesday Georgia was one of four states without a Hate Crime law. Arbery’s death sparked immediate calls for the passage of the bill which had failed to pass in previous years.
House Bill 426 would impose additional penalties for crimes motivated by a victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign the bill into law.
Arbery’s death as well as the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of white men or police officers catapulted the Black Lives Matters movement across the nation. For several weeks protesters took to the streets demanding justice, police reform and the removal of Confederate statues and monuments.
Currently there are two petitions being circulated on Change.org demanding changes here in Liberty County. One petition was started by Bradwell Institute’s former Class President and recent graduate Devonte King.
King’s petition is asking that his Alma mater’s name be changed.
“Bradwell Institute was named by Captain Bradwell in honor of his father James Sharpe Bradwell both of whom were high-ranking officials for the Confederate Army,” King wrote in his petition. “Neither of the Bradwell men were present for the integration of the school in the 1970's and given that they fought for protecting the institution of slavery we can assume they would not be receptive of Black students attending the school today.”
King goes on to say that Bradwell was a school for elite White children and not meant to be a school for Black students.
“Today however, over fifty percent of the students at Bradwell Institute are Black due to the integration of the school which occurred eighteen years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that ruled school segregation unconstitutional,” King wrote.
The outspoken senior said he would like to see the school be named after Civil Rights Activist, Septima Clark, who once taught at Liberty County’s Historic Dorchester Academy.
The Liberty County School System said they are aware of the petition but have not discussed the matter.
Another petition started by Kenyatta Parker is seeking to remove the statute of a Confederate Soldier currently standing at the Old Historic Liberty County Courthouse.
Parker wrote that the statute sits in a location where several community events take place.
“The community celebrations are stained by a painful reminder of a dark past and present,” Parker wrote. “A past of slavery, hate, murder, rape, inequality, and injustice; as well as a divisive and stagnant present. The Confederate Soldier Statue gifted by the Daughters of the Confederacy located at the old courthouse sits in the heart of our celebrations and is a reminder of all of the aforementioned things.”
Her petition said the removal of the statue, “would show love, support and understanding.
The Courier reached out for comments from City and County officials. We are awaiting their reply.
Links to the petition are here: