The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has announced the arrests of two men on murder and aggravated assault charges for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery after a gruesome video emerged on Tuesday that allegedly shows Arbery being confronted and killed by father and son Travis and Gregory McMichael. Far-right figures have already started playing defense for the McMichaels by twisting the narrative and deflecting from the incident.
In February, the McMichaels had seen Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, jogging around a Glynn County neighborhood and allegedly assumed he was responsible for a recent burglary in the area. They armed themselves and chased him down in a pickup truck, eventually firing multiple shots and killing him. (Arbery was reportedly unarmed.) The McMichaels initially walked free after telling Glynn County police that Arbery had violently attacked them. (Gregory McMichael is a former police detective and district attorney investigator in Glynn County.)
Arbery’s killing fits into a pattern of unarmed Black men being shot and killed with little to no accountability for the shooters, and right-wing media’s quick vilification of Black people who are killed in those cases. Despite the mounting evidence against the McMichaels, far-right reactionaries on social media platforms and message boards are already attempting to obscure the facts of the case, downplay the incident with racist talking points, and even outright justify Arbery’s killing.
- Patrick Casey, white nationalist and president of the American Identity Movement (formerly Identity Evropa) has repeatedly pushed dubiously sourced information and has attempted to deflect from the shooting via his Telegram account.
Casey also posted a thread from a Twitter account attempting to justify the murder by arguing that Arbery “charged” the McMichaels and they were therefore justified in shooting him. The Twitter thread got more than 1,600 views on Telegram.
Vincent James of The Red Elephants reacted to the shooting by making a TikTok compilation featuring headlines related to crimes committed by Black people.
James’ site also published a blog post highlighting Arbery’s 2013 arrest for trying to enter a basketball game while he was carrying a pistol. The post’s author, Sasha O’Conner, parroted the McMichaels’ story that Arbery was a “burglary suspect” who was “sprinting down” the road, accused Democrats of “tearing this country apart, along racial lines,” and wrote that “mobs on social media have become the “judge & Jury” of the criminal justice system.
White nationalist hub VDare was quick to react to basketball star Lebron James’ Twitter post about the shooting, pointing to a column by former National Review writer and noted racist John Derbyshire about “black-on-white crime.”
- Holocaust denier and racist youth vlogger Nick Fuentes stressed that he’s “never seen a Black jogger before” even though the sees a lot of “White people jogging” and “Asian people jogging.”
- Disgraced racist troll and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos chimed in on Fuentes’ “analysis.”
- A TikTok video mocking the public’s reaction to the shooting was posted from an account self-identifying as part the #GroyperArmy, a reference to the racist “Groyper” movement founded by Fuentes. The user also added Fuentes’ name as a hashtag in the description of the video. TikTok has been attempting to excise the influence of Fuentes’s “Groyper” movement from the platform.
- On Telegram, far-right anti-immigrant blogger Michelle Malkin has claimed activist Shaun King’s involvement in sharing information about the Arbery case is related to a pattern of “perpetrating hate crime hoaxes.” On The Unz Review, Malkin published a piece titled “Top 3 Reasons to Doubt the Ahmaud ‘Just a Jogger’ Arbery Narrative.”
- Far right podcaster Stefan Molyneux outright denied that Arbery, who was shot to death, had a gun pointed at him. Molyneux also pushed the claim that Arbery attacked the McMichaels.
- A Facebook group titled “Christians Against Google” changed its name to “Justice for Gregory and Travis McMichael” and increased its follower count from less than 20,000 to more than 60,000 in the span of a few days. The description of the group claims the McMichaels are “God fearing men” who “were only trying to protect their neighborhood” and that Arbery “did not did not comply with simple commands.”
Other figures simply resorted to repeating long-standing far-right talking points about race and crime, even promoting content claiming the Trayvon Martin shooting was a “hoax.”
- Former Daily Caller editor and white-supremacist blogger Scott Greer:
Alt-right conspiracy theorist and InfoWars Editor-at-Large Paul Joseph Watson:
- Jack Posobiec, One America News Network host and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist:
On message board site 4chan, attempts are already being made to “meme” the killing. A post on the site’s “politically incorrect” board known as “/pol/” titled “Operation Jogger” looks to mobilize users in a campaign to “meme ‘jogger’ into being recognized as hate speech.” Users on the far-right board have already created racist imagery mocking Arbery.