Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sign Roc Nation letter calling for swift action over Ahmaud Arbery killing

Letter says 25-year-old victim was ‘unarmed and innocent and the victim of a hate crime’

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 10 May 2020 15:37
The McMichaels are arrested for murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Meek Mill are among the artists to have signed an open letter from the social justice arm of music label Roc Nation, which calls for quick action over the killing of an unarmed black man near the city of Brunswick, Georgia.

Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on 23 February as he went on his usual jogging route through a neighbourhood in Brunswick.

Two men – Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis – have been arrested and charged with Arbery’s murder. They told police they had chased Arbery because they suspected him of being a burglar.

It took police more than two months to charge the men, who are both white. Action was only taken after the shooting sparked nationwide outrage following coverage in US media.

Arbery has been described by those who knew him as a “very good young man”.

The Roc Nation letter is addressed to Georgia governor Brian Kemp, the state’s attorney general Christopher Carr, and district attorney Tom Durden.

It says Durden should be taken off the case due to a conflict of interest, because the elder McMichael was a former police officer.

The letter has urged Carr to appoint a special prosecutor instead, to help get a fair trial. It also says the man who allegedly filmed video footage of the shooting should be charged as an armed accomplice.

“By now, we've all seen the crime's disturbing video, so the facts here are not in doubt: He was unarmed and innocent and the victim of a hate crime,” the letter reads.

“Which is why we call upon you today, as official leaders of the great state of Georgia, and with the entire world watching, to ensure that a fair trial is conducted, as that can only lead to the appropriate felony convictions of both McMichaels.

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“We also implore you to charge William Bryan as an armed accomplice to the crime.”

It adds: “We truly appreciate that you have arrested and charged these men with Ahmaud's murder, and are hopeful that a trial and conviction will show that, in the state that gave us Dr Martin Luther King Jr... Dr King's words do ring true: 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice'.”

Rapper Yo Gotti, who also signed the letter, said in a statement to Associated Press: “We are all Ahmaud Arbery. Everyday activities should not end in death sentences.

“We must hold people responsible for their actions. Ahmaud Arbery was unarmed and innocent and his killers must be brought to justice.”

“If anybody saw that horrifying video of his killing, it is heartbreaking, unbelievably unacceptable and inhumane,” Keys said.

“No human being should be murdered and not receive justice. I have black sons and they should be able to go on a jog or anywhere they want without the risk of being killed.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in