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Attorney for Ahmaud Arbery’s family: ‘Why do we have 2 justice systems in America?’

Editor's Note: After this segment aired, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations announced that Gregory and Travis McMichael had been arrested.

Public outcry is mounting over the killing of an unarmed African American man in Georgia over two months ago. Recently released video shows 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery jogging in late February when he was shot to death by two white men, who said they thought he looked like a burglary suspect. Marcus Arbery, the father of the victim, and his attorney, Benjamin Crump, join Yamiche Alcindor to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Public outcry and calls for arrests in the killing of an African-American man in Georgia more than two months ago are intensifying.

    As Yamiche Alcindor reports for our Race Matters series, the case drew widespread public attention after a video of the shooting was released earlier this week.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Since then, Judy, the nation has become familiar with this name, Ahmaud Arbery. He was a 25-year-old black man chased and killed by at least two white men as he was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood on February 23.

    Two of those men, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, said they pursued him because they believed he looked like a suspect in recent burglaries. Arbery was unarmed.

    The video shot from behind seems to show Arbery was trying to go around their truck. They then confronted him and later shot him. They told police he attacked them as they were trying to hold him and wait for police.

    His father, Marcus Arbery and his attorney, Benjamin Crump, join me now.

    Thanks so much for being here, both of you.

    Mr. Arbery, Ahmaud was your baby son. He was your youngest. He was also an athlete. He liked to run.

    Tell me a little bit about how often he ran the route that he ran in that Georgia neighborhood and whether or not he had any reason to fear for his life.

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Well, he ran all the time.

    Everybody know he ran all the time. So I don't see why this happened to him, because that's all he did is ran and work out. He ran like three, four, five miles a day. Everybody know he ran.

    I don't know why they racially profile him and done him like that, because all he did is work out and ran and just took care of his body, because he had dreams now. Now all his dreams are gone, because they took his life for nothing.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    How familiar was this neighborhood to your son in particular?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    He stayed right across the street. His mother had a house right across the street from that neighborhood.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Ahmaud was very familiar with this neighborhood? He ran there often and ran this route often?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Yes, ma'am.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Gregory McMichael followed your son because he said he looked like a burglary suspect.

    Ahmaud's mother also said that the police told her that her son and your son was killed during — in the commission of a burglary and during a burglary and a struggle.

    What do you make of that, especially the police saying that about your child?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Well, they just — it's just a lie and a cover-up, trying to justify everything when they're wrong.

    They know they done got caught up and they're wrong. The video speaking everything for itself. Check that lynch mob out. It's a lynch mob. So they're trying to cover up when they done messed up. They have been doing that for years.

    Corruption in this town is real bad with African-Americans. So he's been lynched. The video speak loud and plain as day. So, do their homework and do your job. Arrest these terrible people.

    Get them out of this — get them off the streets, before they try to lynch anybody else kid. Get them off the streets. They need to be behind bars for a long, long, long time. Get them off the streets.

    We just want justice, and get them off the streets, because there ain't no room for them, not in a small town like this.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Mr. Arbery is talking about a modern-day lynching.

    We have now seen two prosecutors recuse themselves. A third prosecutor says this needs to go to a grand jury. What do you want to see legally happened here? And do you believe there's any sort of arrest that might happen?

  • Benjamin Crump:

    I do, Yamiche.

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has now taken over the case. And they have told us that they're going to look at the case with fresh eyes. We asked them not to rely on anything from the local officials from that Southeastern Georgia law enforcement community, because they are too close to Gregory McMichael, who worked as a former police officer and a detective for the district attorney for over 30 years.

    And so, if they look at it with fresh eyes, then they will have probable cause, simply based on this video that shows this horrific execution of Marcus' baby boy, his youngest son, who would celebrate his birthday tomorrow, had they not murdered him.

    And so we believe that they have the probable cause to arrest these — I can't even think a father and son, a murderous duo. They have the probable cause right now to arrest them for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Do you also want to see a third man charged in this case, Mr. Crump? Do you want to see the man who shot the video also charged and arrested?

  • Benjamin Crump:

    Certainly.

    The person who was in the vehicle helping them to chase Ahmaud Arbery just because the color of his skin, because we don't buy any of this allegation that he was committing a burglary. There's no evidence of that.

    He had a T-shirt on and shorts. He didn't have burglary tools or a mask or anything. He was simply a young man exercising. And as Mr. Marcus has said on many of occasions, if this was him and his son or mine, and they got on a truck with a shotgun and a .357 Magnum, and they chased a young white man who was jogging through the community in broad daylight, and he ended up dead, they would be arrested immediately.

    And anybody who aided and abetted them, anybody who videotaped them, or anybody who was with them would also be held accountable. So, why do we have two justice systems in America, one for black America and one for white America?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Mr. Arbery, Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26, 2012. Your son was killed on February 23. They were — they would have been almost the same age had they both lived.

    Did you talk to your son about Trayvon Martin? Did he understand and talk about this national conversation that we have been having around racism?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I talk to my children about that all the time. And they all thought that Trayvon Martin was murdered too.

    My children know. All three of them know. They know.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Tell me about that. Tell me more how you talked to your son about Trayvon Martin.

  • Marcus Arbery:

    I just told him that racism is pretty deep when you're a black African-American.

    You just got to — you just can't fall in their hands, because they really set you up when you're racially profiled. They set you up to lure you where they want you at, and then they take your life. That's race and hate. I always told my kids about that kind of stuff.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And what do you want the nation to know about your son?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Yes, I just want the nation to know that he was a good boy, well-mannered, and he just loved the people.

    You know, he was the kind of young man that, if you needed a dollar, and he had one dollar, he gave it to you.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And now you want to see justice for your son?

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Definitely.

    I just want to see this lynch mob behind bars, where they belong at, because if you don't put them behind bars, where they belong, they're going to find a way to kill again. And there ain't no room for that in this little small town.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, Mr. Arbery, Mr. Crump, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate you both coming on.

  • Marcus Arbery:

    Thank you.

  • Benjamin Crump:

    Thank you, Yamiche.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And a note: We are reaching out to police, prosecutors, and the McMichaels to see if they will speak to us as well in coming days.

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