Megastars Jay-Z and Alicia Keys have called for swift action in what they say was a clear “hate crime”, as prominent Americans joined the fight for justice for a young man gunned down while out for a jog.
All over the US at the weekend, Americans laced up their runners and hit the pavement as they paid tribute to Ahmaud Arbery a black man whose death has shocked the country.
It comes after a disturbing video was released last week showing the 25-year-old Mr Arbery stumbling to the ground after shots ring out in a residential street.
“If anybody saw that horrifying video of his killing, it is heartbreaking, unbelievably unacceptable and inhumane,” Alicia Keys said in a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday night.
“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.”
Rappers Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, Robert “Meek Mill” Williams and two lawyers also signed Jay-Z social justice arm Team Roc’s open letter.
It was published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and directed at state officials.
“We are all Ahmaud Arbery,” rapper Yo Gotti said in a statement.
“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.”
The letter said District Attorney Tom Durden should be recused from the case due to a conflict of interest because Gregory McMichael, one of the two men charged with murder, was a former police officer.
The stars urged state Attorney-General Christopher Carr to instead appoint a special prosecutor to help achieve a fair trial.
The letter also says a neighbour should be charged as an armed accomplice.
Open letter to Georgia elected officials appearing in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution today, calling for justice to be served in the case of Ahmaud Arbery's murder. Convict his killers and show the world that hate and fear will lose. #JusticeforAhmaud #iRunWithMaud pic.twitter.com/w0nuXthGEc
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) May 10, 2020
Mr Arbery was shot dead on February 23, but no charges were brought for more than two months.
National outrage over the case swelled last week after the video of his death surfaced. It appeared to have been captured in a car following Mr Arbery.
In the footage, the young man is seen running in the Brunswick neighbourhood when he attempts to dodge around a ute stopped in the middle of the road.
Two other men can be seen in the footage, one of whom appears to be armed with a long firearm when he confronts Mr Abery.
Multiple shots are heard and Mr Arbery struggles against one of the men before stumbling and falling on the road.
The father and son said they thought Mr Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before.
Mr Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her 25-year-old son, a former high school football player, was just jogging in the neighbourhood before he was killed.