Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaking out about the killing of Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery, saying that he was “murdered for being black” and demanding justice.
Arbery was shot to death while out jogging in the coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23. Video released this week showed him running down a street when he encountered a stopped pickup truck and 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael. The father and son pair reportedly suspected Arbery of committing burglary in the neighborhood and attempted to stop him. Arbery was shot and killed after a struggle with the pair.
A local prosecutor initially decided the McMichaels were acting within the scope of a citizens arrest in the state of Georgia and killed Arbery in self-defense. But that decision has sparked national outrage, especially as the elder McMichael had worked as an investigator with the district attorney’s office, leading District Attorney George E. Barnhill to recuse himself and transfer the case to a neighboring district.
Ocasio-Cortez joined a number of public officials who have spoken out about the killing. The New York congresswoman said that the killing was a murder, not self-defense.
“Ahmaud Arbery was murdered for being Black,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Thursday. “His White assailants were allowed to roam free *for months* after lynching him. They faced no charges, no arrests. Police had video of Ahmaud’s murder the day it happened,” she added. “His family deserves justice. Our country deserves answers.”
Other national figures have brought up the case as well, calling for arrests to be made. Former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also took to Twitter to call for justice for the 25-year-old Georgia man.
“The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood,” Biden tweeted. “My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”
Lawyers representing the Arbery family have also led calls for arrests and demonstrations have taken place demanding justice for him.
After the release of the video evidence, the local prosecutor said he would send the case to a grand jury to determine if charges should be filed, but the timeline for that remains unclear. Grand juries are on hold in the state of Georgia due to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, so the earliest a grand jury could be called would be in June.