Speaking on the high-profile shooting of an unarmed black man in her state, a Democratic US mayor accused Trump administration “rhetoric” of effectively encouraging would-be racists.
Calling the death of Ahmaud Arbery the “lynching of an African American man,” Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Georgia’s state capital Atlanta, told CNN on Sunday: “With the rhetoric we hear coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020.”
The Trump administration has long been accused of using racially charged language, from the president praising white supremacist demonstrators as “fine people” to his frequently branding black lawmakers as “low IQ.”
Bottomos also stressed that the US Justice Department should step in when local leaderships fails to prosecute appropriately across the country, as many believe happened after the killing of Arbery this February.
“But we don’t have that leadership at the top right now. It’s disheartening,” she added.
The mayor said she believes the arrests of two white men in the killing would not have been made if eyewitness footage of the shooting not surfaced.
“I think that’s absolutely the reason that they were charged,” she said. “I think had we not seen that video, I don’t believe that they would be charged.”
Bottoms also said that Arbery’s killing is a “bigger” issue that extends beyond the state of Georgia.
The white father and son accused of killing Arbery were charged with murder Thursday night after video of the Feb. 23 attack was posted online, sparking national outrage.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were taken into custody for the fatal shooting over two months after it transpired.
Asked during the Fox News interview what can be done to ensure “justice is done and this doesn’t end up in a racial situation,” President Donald Trump said “justice getting done is the thing that solves that problem.”
“It’s in the hands of the governor, and I’m sure he’ll do the right thing. It could be something that we didn’t see on tape,” Trump said of Brian Kemp, the Republican governor of Georgia, where the shooting took place.
Kemp won the governor’s seat in late 2018 amid claims he had rigged the voting process to exclude African-America voters.
“It was a disturbing or troubling video, no question about that,” said Trump. “But they have very good law enforcement in the state of Georgia and I’m sure they’re going to come up with what happened.”
Arbery’s family maintains the former football player was out for a jog when he was confronted by the men and fatally shot.
Scuffle and shooting
In cellphone video posted online that appears to show the shooting, a black man in athletic clothes jogging in a residential area is seen nearing a white pickup truck stopped in the middle of the road. He veers to the side of the road as a man who appears to be white stands by the driver’s side door while another stands in the truck bed.
The jogger then tries to run around the passenger side of the vehicle when a gunshot rings out off camera and a scuffle ensues, with the jogger attempting to wrangle what appears to be a shotgun from the man who was standing near the driver’s side door.
Then a second shot rings out as the jogger takes a swing at the man, followed by a third shot fired at the jogger at point-blank range, sending him stumbling away before collapsing to the ground.
Gregory McMichael, a former police office, has told police he and his son suspected Arbery of involvement in a series of neighborhood burglaries.
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