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Georgia Announces Probe Into Shooting Death Of Unarmed Black Jogger


For two nights, people in the small coastal city of Brunswick, Ga., have been protesting an incident that happened in late February.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Justice delayed...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: ...Is justice denied.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Justice delayed...

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: ...Is justice denied.

KING: A black man named Ahmaud Arbery went jogging. Two white men followed him in a truck. One of them admitted to shooting him. No one was arrested. Now remember, this was two months ago. And then this week someone released a video that shows the shooting, and the protests started. Emily Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting has been following the story. Good morning, Emily.

EMILY JONES, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: What do we know happened on that day?

JONES: Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. And Gregory McMichael saw him running by and called his son, Travis McMichael. They got their guns, hopped in a pickup truck and confronted Arbery. And then one of the men, Travis McMichael, acknowledges that he shot Arbery.

KING: These two men have said they shot him, right? They've said that one of them shot him. What is their reason?

JONES: Well, they say there'd been a string of break-ins in the neighborhood and that Arbery had shown up on security cameras. And they say they were making a citizen's arrest. But one of the organizers of the protests that we've seen, Travis Riddle, says that argument doesn't really make much sense.

TRAVIS RIDDLE: What warrants you to take - you to be the judge, the prosecutor and the officer that you convict this man and gave him death before he was even tried.

JONES: And at the protest yesterday, they were actually handing out running bibs, like you might wear in a race, that had the hashtag #irunwithmaud on them because they're really just stressing the fact that he seems to have just been out for a jog like many people do.

KING: And now there's video showing what happened. This all went down in late February. It's two months ago. Why haven't the authorities there done anything?

JONES: Well, that's a major question and source of the anger around this case. One reason for it is procedural. Two district attorneys have had to remove themselves from the case because one of the men who confronted Arbery, Gregory McMichael, worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA's office for more than 20 years. But the protesters and lawyers for the family also say that police were slow to act because McMichael used to work in local law enforcement and still has ties to the police and DA's office. In fact, the family's lawyers say that the whole system in the area is compromised. And they're calling on federal authorities to step in. They've asked the Justice Department to begin investigating.

KING: So a lot of attention drawn to this small town. You've been talking to people there. What are they saying about this shooting and the fallout from the shooting?

JONES: Well, there's been a lot of anger on social media really since it happened. But now that the video has come out this week showing the shooting, it's really inflamed the community. And interestingly, it's fueled outrage outside the bounds of the usual places. A lot of people across the racial and the political spectrum are calling for justice and questioning why the McMichaels were never arrested. But for Arbery's mom, Wanda Cooper-Jones, it's also personal. And more than two months later, it's still raw.


WANDA COOPER-JONES: He had ambitions. I mean, he had plans. Ahmaud was still young. He had dreams that wasn't fulfilled. And he loved life. He loved life.

KING: Emily, should we expect a resolution to this anytime soon?

JONES: That's hard to say. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has now stepped in, but they're asking for patience. And Georgia has also stopped grand jury proceedings until June because of the coronavirus pandemic. So we don't really know.

KING: We don't really know, yeah. Emily Jones, Savannah bureau chief for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Emily, thanks.

JONES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Emily Jones