Georgia investigators have arrested a man they say made “terroristic threats” against protesters gathered in reaction to the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest on Sunday, saying that 20-year-old Rashawn Smith made a Facebook post that allegedly contained a threat toward protesters. The bureau noted that the arrest came with the help of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.
“On Sunday, May 10, 2020, the GBI arrested Rashawn Smith, age 20, and charged him with Dissemination of Information Relating to Terroristic Acts,” noted a statement released by the GBI.
“He was taken into custody in Midway, GA and will be booked into the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.”
The statement did not reveal the nature of the threat.
In the last week, many have gathered in the community to protest the killing of the 25-year-old man. A video showed protesters, some wearing facial masks to adhere to coronavirus guidelines, holding signs calling for justice and chanting “No justice, no peace” at demonstrations around the community where Arbery was shot to death.
Though Arbery was killed in February, the case captured national attention this week when a video was released showing his final moments.
The video showed Arbery running down a road in the coastal community of Brunswick when he came to a stopped pickup truck. There, Arbery encountered 34-year-old Travis McMichael and his father, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, who told police they believed Arbery was involved in a series of recent burglaries in the neighborhood. As the video showed, Arbery got into an altercation with the younger McMichael and was fatally shot.
The men initially claimed they were acting in self-defense while trying to conduct a citizen’s arrest, but many believed the video showed otherwise. Throughout the week, many demonstrators who gathered around the community criticized police for not arresting the pair.
The GBI ultimately arrested both on Thursday, and the conduct of local investigators is now coming under scrutiny. On Sunday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that he asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the circumstances surrounding the investigation of the fatal shooting.
The move was hailed by the family of the victim and protesters.
“We have requested the involvement of the DOJ since we first took this case,” Arbery family attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart said in a statement, via MarketWatch.
“There are far too many questions about how this case was handled and why it took 74 days for two of the killers to be arrested and charged in Mr. Arbery’s death.”