Posted on February 16, 2022

Feds Say Men Chased Arbery Because of the ‘Color of His Skin’

Shaddi Abusaid and Bill Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 14, 2022

The man who chased down and fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery sent messages to friends with “a theme of Black people being less than human,” a federal prosecutor told jurors Monday.

Travis McMichael, on trial with his father and a neighbor who filmed the shooting, referred to Black people as “animals, criminals, monkeys and sub-human savages,” prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein said during opening statements of the hate crimes trial.

On Feb. 23, 2020, McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan joined in a chase of Arbery “based on the color of his skin,” said Bernstein, from the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. All three men were convicted of murder last year and sentenced to life in prison. Now they face hate crimes charges in a trial that will center around race.

Apologizing to jurors for the racial epithets she was about to cite, Bernstein quoted from texts Travis McMichael sent to a friend.

“Zero (n-words) work with me,” he wrote. “They ruined everything. That’s why I love what I do now. Not a (n-word) in sight.”

Bernstein told jurors they will learn how all three defendants talked about Black people “behind closed doors.”

She said Greg McMichael also used racially incendiary language, detailing an incident in which he allegedly told a colleague he was glad that Atlanta civil rights leader Julian Bond had died.

“He was nothing but trouble,” Greg McMichael said, according to Bernstein. “Those Blacks are nothing but trouble.”

As for Bryan, shortly before Arbery’s killing, he had learned his daughter was dating a Black man. In messages, Bryan repeatedly referred to that man as a “(n-word)” and a “monkey,” Bernstein told the jury.

She concluded by saying if the unarmed Arbery had been white, he would have gone for a jog that afternoon and been “home in time for Sunday dinner.” Instead, he found himself “alone and scared, bleeding to death in the middle of the street,” Bernstein said.

Defense attorneys acknowledged their clients had said terribly offensive things about Black people. But that isn’t why they decided to chase Arbery that afternoon, they argued.


All three defense attorneys condemned Arbery’s killing while seemingly distancing themselves from their clients’ racist remarks.