Back in February, Arbery was shot while out on a run in Brunswick, Georgia. During his jog, Arbery was confronted by two men, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, who were carrying guns and believed Arbery was involved in two recent burglaries in the area, even though neither alleged incident had been reported to police and no official description of the alleged perpetrator was on record.
There was a struggle, three shots were fired and two struck Arbery. At the time, no charges were filed and the case made little noise outside of Georgia until a video of the incident was released at the end of April, which finally led to the McMichaels’ May 7th arrests on charges of murder and aggravated assault.
The Team Roc letter, which was addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Christopher Carr, and District Attorney Tom Durden, said that Arbery was “the victim of a hate crime,” and stated, “The arrest yesterday on charges of murder and aggravated assault — more than two months after Ahmaud’s death — was a positive first step on the long road toward justice. But it only strengthens our resolve to see that justice is eventually served.” (The letter originally ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was also signed by attorneys Lee Merritt and Benjamin L. Crump.)
Open letter to Georgia elected officials appearing in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution today, calling for justice to be served in the case of Ahmaud Arbery's murder. Convict his killers and show the world that hate and fear will lose. #JusticeforAhmaud #iRunWithMaud pic.twitter.com/w0nuXthGEc
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) May 10, 2020
The letter listed several demands in order to ensure a fair trial. Among them, Team Roc called for Durden to recuse himself from the case because Gregory McMichael is a former police officer, which the group called “a clear conflict of interest.” Instead, the group requested a special prosecutor be appointed by Attorney General Carr. The letter also called for William Bryan, the McMichaels’ neighbor, to be charged as an armed accomplice. (Meritt, an attorney for the Arbery family, told Rolling Stone that he believes Bryan filmed the video of the altercation and that Bryan coordinated with the McMichaels.)
“As a society, we can no longer pretend that the racial inequalities, which exist in every facet of our lives, don’t invariably lead down the path to poverty, violence and death,” Team Roc’s letter read. “To even think about breaking this cycle we need you to protect the process and preserve the fairness of the trial. And if you take these necessary actions, you will send a message to the people that want to drag Georgia back to a time when African-Americans were killed for merely voting: hate and fear will lose.”
The letter continued: “Ahmaud was a loving son, a brother and a positive role model in the community. He was a human being. He was also African-American which, sadly, means that he was a target. Still. And, on this Mother’s Day — just two days after what would have been Ahmaud’s 26th birthday — we simply cannot and will not stand for another black mother who must spend the day mourning the loss of her black son because of the color of his skin.”