Ahmaud Arbery: Georgia police arrest man who ‘sent hoax threat’ targeting protesters

Incident comes as attorney general calls for federal investigation of police's original shooting inquiry

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 11 May 2020 13:13
Ahmaud Arbery's death draws protests in Atlanta

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has arrested a 20-year-old man, Rashawn Smith, and charged him with making threats against protests at the killing of Ahmaud Arbery from a false Facebook account set up in the name of a white Trump supporter.

“On Sunday, May 10, 2020, the GBI arrested Rashawn Smith, age 20, and charged him with Dissemination of Information Relating to Terroristic Acts,” read a GBI statement. “He was taken into custody in Midway, GA and will be booked into the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.

“This investigation was conducted with the assistance of the FBI & Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.”

The GBI inquiry that led to Mr Smith began less than 24 hours earlier in response to a Facebook post that “contained a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery”. The GBI has since tweeted that Mr Smith “created a Facebook User ID of an unwitting individual to post a hoax threat”.

Early reports suggest that Mr Smith used a profile with a picture of a white Trump supporter to leave a post on a community Facebook group page in which he threatened to stage a mass shooting at the Brunswick County courthouse if protesters “ranting [their]” negro spiritual” did not “call a quits on this”.

The investigation into Arbery’s death, meanwhile, has taken several turns in the last few days. The two men who chased after him with guns, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, were last week arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

It has since transpired that when the elder Mr McMichael was involved in a previous prosecution of Arbery when he worked as an investigator in the local district attorney’s office.

Also emerging is additional video from the moments before the shooting, specifically CCTV footage in which a man thought to be Arbery enters a vacant house then continues jogging along the street before two men enter a white truck and drive in the same direction. The police are investigating the video.

And on the same day Mr Smith’s arrest was announced, a local TV station reported that the man who shot the video of Arbery’s final moments that went viral last week is receiving death threats.

Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, has now asked the US Department of Justice to examine how Arbery’s death was investigated from the outset.


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