Hate crimes

The Men Accused of Killing Ahmaud Arbery Should Not Face Federal Hate Crime Charges

Charge them for their crimes, not their thoughts.


Seventy-four days elapsed before the state of Georgia announced it would prosecute Travis McMichael, George McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan for murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. The state took action only after a viral video showed the three men confronting Arbery, who they suspected of burglary.

All three were ultimately indicted last June by a Georgia grand jury on four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, as well as one count each of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All of which is to say that while the justice system moved too slowly, it did in fact move.

Despite that fact, the Department of Justice announced yesterday that it had filed federal hate crime charges against the men, who now each face one count of interference with rights and one count of attempted kidnapping, while the McMichaels also face "one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis's case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to" a violent crime.

"Counts One and Two of the indictment allege that the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery's right to use a public street because of his race," reads the announcement.

Though Bryan wasn't part of the direct confrontation between the McMichaels and Arbery—he filmed it—he is charged with using his truck to block off a route of escape.

The case is nothing short of nauseating, and Arbery's race did in fact play a role. "Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground," Special Agent Richard Dial of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified, "that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement: fucking nigger."

But hate crime charges for Arbery's killers do not produce more or better justice. The perpetrators of racially motivated violence do not deserve a worse punishment than people who commit opportunistic violence, or violence inspired by a mutable trait or characteristic. Our laws should punish crimes, not bad thoughts.

What's more, the entire concept of a hate crime has been undermined by increasingly expansive interpretations. "Everyone agrees that it should be a hate crime to shoot a police officer," said state Sen. Cam Ward (R–Alabaster), the chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee, in 2019. The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office last year handed down hate crime charges to Nicole Anderson and David Nelson for painting over a city-sponsored Black Lives Matter mural.

Also problematic with the DOJ pursuing a civil rights prosecution is that Georgia is already in the process of trying all three men. Way back in 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union discouraged this exact type of federal hate crime prosecution when it beseeched the Senate to "further limit[] the federal government's jurisdiction to prosecute when state or local prosecutors are diligently investigating and prosecuting a person for the same crime." The ACLU was worried at the time that expanding federal hate crime law "could result in an unwarranted expansion of federal authority to prosecute defendants—even when a competent state prosecution is available." They weren't wrong.

The defense team has raised its own issues with the DOJ getting involved. "There is absolutely nothing in the indictment that identifies how this is a federal hate crime and it ignores without apology that Georgia law allows a citizen to detain a person who was committing burglaries until police arrive," attorneys Bob Rubin and Jason Sheffield, who are representing Travis McMichael, told NPR.

Arbery and his family deserve justice. The DOJ should allow Georgia to grant it.

NEXT: How the NFL and the Players Union Screw Draft Picks Out of Millions

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Just make all crimes against someone not of the same race, sex or religion a hate crime.

    1. mission accomplished dude.

      1. Not really. It predominantly only flows in one direction.

        1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular DS A office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
          on this page…..VISIT HERE

    2. As long as we can still “hate” gingers…

      1. Karen Gillan is a ginger and she’s awesome.

        1. As is Rose Leslie. Need to get those two together……. with several bottles of wine……. and video camera……

    3. Another criminal nigger off the streets.

    4. If the victim is mulatto, is it still a hate crime?

      If the victim identified as the same race, but looks a little different, is it then a hate crime?

      The whole thing is bad law.

      1. “If the victim is mulatto, is it still a hate crime?”

        Only half a hate crime.

    5. What if you are a self-hating minority, or a woke white person?

  2. I agree that there is no need for a special set of hate crime laws. I do however think that racially motivated killing are more serious and I would like to see judge address this in sentencing. I would sentence those guilty of a racially motivated crimes to the full or near full sentence allowed by law.

    1. In today’s world that makes you a racist.

    2. “I do however think that racially motivated killing are more serious”

      What makes a “racially motivated” killing more serious than religiously motivated killing, or a politically motivated killing, or a killing motivated by the victims gender?
      How is it worse?

      1. It turns out the other types of victims are only mostly dead, smart guy

      2. I said racially motivated were more serious, not the most serious. All cases you mentioned would constitute a more serious crime in my opinion. We should never excuse killing but it is often a crime of passion. If that passion is the results of a hatred of a group and you focus that hatred on an individual as a member of that group I see that as more serious. If your anger is focused on the individual as an individual that is wrong but could be more understandable. Examples like bar fight, road rage, finding a lover in bed with your spouse, would not justify a killing, but I would just give a regular sentence.

        1. But the distinction for crimes of passion is usually already present. In some jurisdictions, a successful “crime of passion” defense may result in a conviction for manslaughter or second degree murder instead of first degree murder.

        2. Dead is dead lefty piece of shit. Why is murder over race worse than murder because the murderer hates something else about the victim? This only makes sense if you don’t care about individuals.

          “I do however think that racially motivated killing are more serious”

          To who? Definitely not to the murdered person. They’re dead. I’ve always known you to be an idiot, but this takes your stupidity to new levels.

    3. Why is it more serious than any other murder?

  3. Oh no!


  4. Expect to see more of this. With procecuters in d run cities refusing to try certin groups and people, the only alternative is to defend your home yourself which will lead to alot of unnecessary death. This creates a world of 2 options. 1 call the police they do nothing, you keep getting trampled or 2 defend yourself and hope to win in court. More and more we are seeing 2 because law abiding citizens are realizing that 1 isn’t working

    1. ??

      While I agree with what I think your point is—people are going to use self-help when dealing with criminals from now on—this case isn’t a good example of it. One of the guys who shot/chased Arbery was either an ex-cop or a current law enforcement agency employee. (I forget which.) The point is, if Genius had actually called the cops, they’d likely have actually shown up and arrested Arbery for attempted burglary. Jogging….LOL.

      Totally different situation from me, and likely you, calling the cops in a similar instance. Not that you or I should be killing suspected burglars either. Even if the cops blow you off when you call.

      But people will. Different circumstances, no cell phone video, no accomplices: just shoot Arbery in the head, roll him in plastic + a couple of other evidence erasing moves, and dump him in a shitty suburb of Atlanta…the cops probably don’t clear that homicide. And your stuff remains unstolen.

      Hell of a set of incentives.

      1. The site was already being burglarized. The owners called the police. The police said there was nothing they could do and to call this retired guy as a night/neighborhood watch.

        Cops stopped pursuing petty property crime a long time ago.

        1. You’re not following me. AIUI, one of the three guys witnessed Arbery trespassing on the site. That, coupled with the video of Arbery wandering around, gets you to PC for Attempted Burglary, at least how I understand it. (It’s a looser standard in Georgia than Texas)

          The cops probably won’t show up timely for such a call from you or me. They might, if it’s their co-worker calling, and he’s a frequent flyer like Arbery was.

          That’s all. I agree with you about modern policing and property crimes, these days.

  5. I will believe that charging people with “hate crimes,” such as this murder, are a not a bad idea when someone shows me instance when someone was murdered out of “love.” It’s BS. (I was going to use the term “love crimes,” but with this gang, that would leave open just too many possible, clever, retorts).

    1. Not sure about love gangs but I do love posse.

    2. I live in an akiss wrote an entire song about their love gun

    3. A love crime would be when you walk in on your wife in flangrante delecto and lose your temper.

    4. ‘Love Crimes’ sounds like an eighties rock album.

    5. Dahmer murdered out of love. Does that count?

  6. “Charge them for their crimes, not their thoughts.”

    Progressive justice is all about using the courts to police our thoughts.

    If they’re racists, then they need to be punished. If they’re sexist, xenophobic, or homophobic, they need to be punished for that, too. This is the new mens rea. If you’re thinking these illegal thoughts, you may not have done anything wrong, but you’re guilty.

    What’s the purpose of the courts if not to rights wrongs and punish the guilty?


    1. P.S. This is why progressives are America’s most horrible people.

  7. And yet, the courts still accept the concept that a prosecutor, who did not even know the defendant at the time of the crime, can accurately know what the defendant was thinking at the time of the (alleged) crime.

    Defense attorney: So if you can testify under oath that the defendant was hating the victim because of his race at the time of the crime, can you testify what the defendant was thinking two hours before the (alleged) crime? Two days before? How long have you possessed the ability to read minds at a distance?

  8. Jessica Beauvais an African American killed a Policeman (A Greek American) using her car to hit him and send him 100 feet in the air into concrete. Earlier on her FB podcast while she did shots of patron she expressed her view of the police in the most negative language. After getting stoned she got in her car (with a suspended license) and killed the Officer…she continued to drive away and when cornered by police she tried to get away using her car as a battering ram. The media said “two families are devastated”..the Officer but also Ms. Beauvais who at 32 has a 13 year old son she is the sole supporter of. Where is the DOJ? Lucia Bremer…another obvious hate crime..where is the DOJ..the German American mentally disabled man in Rochester NY who was doused in gas by two African Americans and burned to death…where is the DOJ? Yes I’m fine with making a hate crime whenever one race/group kills someone in another…

  9. Read somewhere that Mr. Arbery was a serial thief who used jogging as part of his MO.

    Does Mr. Arbery’s guilt no longer matter because the nigger word was supposedly used, which likely would have been in the heat of the moment and may have been said out of frustration or a lament at being provoked into firing. Does context matter either?

    #AllContextMatters … when the state is alleging criminality.

    Just another example of prosecutorial discretion abuse further enabled by statutes like hate crime laws. Stop the Hate…… Crime Laws

    1. The victim was a thief. That’s why he was “jogging” in boots.

      I don’t see how calling the victim a “n word” goes to a hate crime, if it’s an accurate description. Maybe the prosecutor should have to define the word and explain why it’s a concern for this crime.

  10. They should get medals.

    1. Fuck off troll.

  11. Our laws should punish crimes, not bad thoughts.

    “But bad thoughts are the cause of crime. Don’t you want to nip crime in the bud?”

  12. “Everyone agrees that it should be a hate crime to shoot a police officer,” said state Sen. Cam Ward

    Not *everyone*, apparently.

  13. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last EKG month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings A are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info :https://wapexclusive.com

  14. The U.S. Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, charging a father and son who armed themselves, chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him running in their Georgia neighbourhood.

    Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, were charged along with a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, with one count each of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

  15. All hate crime charges are politically motivated and hate crimes should not exist. A crime is already a crime, with stated punishments by the state. Why you commit the crime makes no difference. A person could hate an ex-spouse and kill the person, but will never be charged with a hate crime. So what is the purpose of a hate crime? It is political.
    Vigilante justice, being judge, jury and executioner has always been illegal. SUSPECTING someone of being a burglar is not license to kill.

  16. Saying that “bad thoughts” shouldn’t be punished is absurd. Bad thoughts are the difference between murder, manslaughter, and an accident.

  17. Pesticide Residues Testing
    Farmers use pesticides, such as insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, acaricides, etc., to help crop resist to disease, weeds, and pests.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.