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Ahmaud Arbery’s Family Speaks of their Son’s Murder

May 11, 2020

Ahmaud Arbery’s Family Speaks of their Son’s Murder

Use this current events lesson to see what led to the arrest of the suspects in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.


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Trigger Warning: Some students may find this content disturbing. The shooting of Ahmaud Arbery has been edited out of this video.

Read the news summary, watch the videos (the video above features Ahmaud’s father, Marcus Arbery, while the link below features his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones) and answer the discussion questions. Follow along with the transcript here. To learn more, read NewsHour’s What we know about the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

VIDEO: Watch NewsHour’s interview with Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother here. “Without national attention, my son’s death would have been a coverup,” she said on Friday, on what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday. She shared her reaction to the arrests and what she wants the nation to know about her son.

Ahmaud Arbery: Another Injustice Followed by Inaction

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

“I don’t know why they racially profiled 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,” Marcus Arbery said.

His lawyer, Crump said, “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.”

Editor’s Note: After this segment aired Thursday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) announced that Gregory and Travis McMichael had been arrested. The two men made their initial court appearance in the killing of Arbery and face murder and assault charges. “We base our decisions on two things. One are facts and the other is the law,” said GBI’s Vic Reynolds, adding, “Whatever the facts are, we apply the law to it. If the law says what the facts are is a felony murder, then we take the warrants for it. I’m very comfortable in telling you that there’s more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder.”

Discussion Questions on the Fatal Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery

  1. Essential question: Why have shootings of unarmed black men continued to plague America?
  2. Attorney Benjamin Crump raises the point of “two justice systems” in America. What do you think he means? How do you think America can overcome these disparities?
  3. The death of Ahmaud Arbery has caused an outcry because of the video that came out which shows the shooting. What difference might this make in the case? How about in the public’s eye?
  4. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother said, “Without national attention, my son’s death would have been a coverup,” Without the family’s efforts and the news media, do you think Arbery’s death would have received the coverage it is now getting? Explain.
    • Cooper-Jones said of her son: “To know Ahmaud was to love Ahmaud,” adding that “My baby didn’t deserve death.” Why is it important for Cooper-Jones to share what her son was like as a person? Why is it important for the public to know about the life of 26-year old Arbery? 
  5. Do you think schools should talk about the high number of incidents of shootings against unarmed black men and women more? Explain.
  6. What are the next steps for law enforcement in this case?
  7. Sometimes it is hard to understand events that are violent and tragic, especially incidents that seem so senseless. If you are feeling upset or worried after learning about this story, who could you talk with at home or reach out to at your school?
  8. Media literacy: NewsHour EXTRA edited out the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in this segment. Why do you think that decision was made? Do you agree or disagree with it? Explain.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.


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