Opening statements began in the federal hate crimes trial of the men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein opened the trial arguing that “if Ahmaud Arbery had been white, he would have gone for a jog, checked out a house under construction and been home in time for Sunday supper.”
Bernstein laid out some of what she plans to prove in the trial, citing some of the racial slurs Travis McMichael has used in the past before he delivered the fatal shot that killed Arbery in February 2020.
As the New York Times noted of Bernstein’s opening argument, McMichael had allegedly:
referred to Black people as “animals,” “criminals,” “monkeys,” “subhuman savages” and “niggers,” including in an electronic exchange with a friend who had sent a video of a Black man sticking a firecracker up his nose.
It would have been “cooler,” Mr. McMichael replied, using a racial slur, if the firecracker had blown the man’s head off.
In a preliminary hearing before the state trial, it was also revealed Travis McMichael used a racial slur after he shot Arbery.
The other men convicted in Arbery’s murder, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, had also expressed animosity towards Black people.
As per the Times, Bernstein “described a time that Gregory McMichael had ranted against Black people to a work colleague and described his animosity toward the civil rights leader Julian Bond, who had recently died.”
Further, Bryan “had used a racist slur when referring to a Black man that his daughter had been dating, and called him a monkey,” just days before Arbery’s killing.
In their state trial, the men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. They can face another life sentence if they are found guilty of the federal charges.