The federal hate crimes trial for the three White men convicted of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, featured testimony from more than 20 witnesses – several of whom spoke about racist messages used by the defendants.
A former Coast Guard colleague told jurors Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, called her a racist slur for dating a Black man. A New York woman testified that during a visit she made to Brunswick, Georgia, Gregory McMichael went on an angry rant about Black people. An FBI agent said in court that William “Roddie” Bryan’s word of choice was “bootlip,” which she described as a derogatory term for a Black person, referencing a stereotypical characterization of their face.
The remarks shared in court, which had been made privately and publicly, reveal the three men talked about Black people in derogatory terms and used racial slurs in conversations with others – key evidence prosecutors used to prove the men acted out of racial animus. Defense attorneys have acknowledged their clients used racist language but deny that’s what motivated their actions in Arbery’s February 23, 2020, killing in south Georgia.
The three defendants were found guilty of all counts in the hate crimes trial.
Video of the fatal shooting sparked nationwide outrage after it was released in May 2020, weeks before the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that set off a summer of widespread protests against racial injustice.