Updated May 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Protesters demand Georgia prosecutors resign over Ahmaud Arbery probe

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on May 8. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Demonstrators rallied Saturday to demand the resignation of two Georgia prosecutors over the investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot while out jogging, per a JUSTGeorgia Coalition statement.

Why it matters: President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden both spoke out over Arbery's Feb. 23 death after cellphone video of his apparent shooting sparked a national outcry. The Justice Department is investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime.

  • Campaigners have raised concerns about the investigation, which took until May 7 for the arrest of the suspects, Gregory and Travis McMichael — a white father and son who told police they suspected Arbery had committed a burglary. They were charged with murder and aggravated assault.

Of note: Former President Obama referenced Arbery's death during a virtual commencement speech Saturday to seniors graduating from historically black colleges as an example of how the coronavirus is having a "disproportionate impact" on black communities.

  • "We see it when a black man goes for a jog, and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning," he said.

The big picture: Hundreds gathered outside Glynn County courthouse to demand action against Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney Jackie Johnson, who recused herself from the probe as Gregory McMichael "was an investigator in Johnson’s office before retiring last May," AP notes.

  • They're also calling for the resignation of Waycross circuit district attorney George Barnhill, who took over the case and decided not to press charges against the McMichaels because he deemed Arbery's killing "justifiable," per AJC.com.
  • Both prosecutors deny any wrongdoing.
  • Former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman, who joined the groups that traveled more than 300 miles from Atlanta for Saturday's protest, told ABC News the suspects' arrest was "not enough."
  • "We refuse to believe that the system that allowed this family to suffer without an arrest should remain intact. They system must be held accountable," he told the news outlet, in reference to the prosecutors.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Obama's comments.

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