Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was jogging through a predominantly white neighbourhood before he was chased by three white men in pick-up trucks

Ahmaud Abery, 25 years old, was gunned down in Brunswick (Georgia) while he was running in a predominantly white area. Three white men with pick-up trucks followed him.

To black Americans, the word ‘lynching’ evokes nightmarish images of the time when their forefathers lived in fear of being murdered by lawless white mobs in a wicked campaign of violence to terrorise and control them.

Some were tortured while others were burned alive and mutilated, while some bodies were hanged from trees.

After the Emancipation of Slaves, such lynchings were quite common. There were approximately 4,000 executions in 1950.

These vigilante attacks on innocent blacks by white thugs were supposed to be a thing of the passé. They aren’t. Over recent weeks, the word ‘lynching’ has repeatedly been used to describe the killing of a 25-year-old former high school star athlete in the state of Georgia.

Ahmaud Archery was walking through predominantly white areas when he was pursued by three pick-up men who claimed to have spotted an African man and believed he was doing something wrong.

The men followed him around the city, before shooting him dead with a shotgun.

Mr Arbery’s father has called the shooting an act of racism, saying: ‘They lynched him. I’ve dealt with racism my whole life here. Everybody’s supposed to be equal.’

America is still haunted by George Floyd’s murder. The white officer killed the motorist by kneeling on his neck. With the rise in Black Lives Matter, Mr Arbery’s death at Satilla Shores shows that the US, despite all claims, still suffers from systemic racism.

Travis McMichael was arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and charged with the murder in the shooting of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Travis McMichael and charged him with murder in the shooting of Ahmaud Abery, an unarmed black male.

William R.Bryan, 52, joined the pursuit and filmed the final 36 seconds of Mr Arbery’s life on his mobile phone

Gregory McMichael, 64, a former police officer had a Confederate flag proudly displayed on his pick-up truck, a symbol dating to the American Civil War which has been claimed by white supremacists

The three all pleaded not guilty, claiming Mr Arbery was a burglar responsible for a string of break-ins and that they chased him down to make a citizen’s arrest using state laws dating back to the dark days of slavery

Last week, tensions were heightened when the court where the three men are on trial for the killing – 21 months after the event – chose an almost all-white jury.

There was outrage as defence lawyers used antiquated ‘strike-out’ rules to remove all but one black man from the 12-person jury, despite the fact that blacks make up 27 per cent of the population in rural Glynn County where the killing happened.

Particularly explosive is that fact that one of the alleged murderers, Gregory McMichael, 64, is a former police officer whose truck proudly displayed a Confederate flag – a symbol dating to the American Civil War which has been claimed by white supremacists.

‘How can there be justice when there are 11 white men and women on the jury?’ a friend of Mr Arbery’s said outside court on Friday, as protesters gathered.

‘He was the victim of a white lynch mob, just as so many blacks have been in the past. Folk like to put a shine on things and say attitudes have changed, but a black boy still can’t go jogging in a white neighbourhood for fear of being shot.’

The case has taken so long to reach court because the authorities only charged the men after a video of the victim’s final moments emerged three months after the attack. Mr Arbery’s family claim the delay was caused by a notoriously ‘corrupt’ local police department which was seeking to protect one of its own.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said Mr Arbery’s attackers ‘assumed the worst’, seeing a black man running down the street in their white neighbourhood in February last year.

After Mr Arbery was attacked and lay dying on the ground, according to a report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, one of three alleged assailants, Travis McMichael – the 34-year-old son of fellow suspect Gregory McMichael – called him a ‘f***ing n*****’.

The McMichaels, and William Bryan, 52, who joined the pursuit and filmed the final 36 seconds of Mr Arbery’s life on his mobile phone, are charged with multiple counts of murder and aggravated assault.

They all pleaded not guilty, claiming Mr Arbery was a burglar responsible for a string of break-ins and that they chased him down to make a citizen’s arrest using state laws dating back to the dark days of slavery.

This citizen’s arrest law was enacted before the American Civil War when Georgia, the centre of America’s lucrative cotton trade, had more than 460,000 slaves making up 45 per cent of its population.

According to legal scholar Professor Ira Robbins, this law ‘is based on racism’, adding: ‘It was used for white people to help catch escaping slaves.

There is a close connection between citizen’s arrest laws in the South and lynchings.’

Some evidence in Mr Arbery’s case suggests that there was a lynching, resembling the racial hatred shown in the film Mississippi Burning.

Ahmaud Arbery, left, struggles with Travis McMichael over a shotgun on a street in a neighbourhood outside Brunswick, Georgia

Ahmaud, from left, and Travis McMichael struggle over a shotgun that was found on a street outside Brunswick in Georgia.

McMichaels saw the young rapper run past their driveway and grabbed a shotgun 12-gauge and a revolver.357 magnum and got into a pickup truck.

Travis McMichael later told police: ‘I assumed something was up.’ His father shouted at Mr Arbery: ‘Stop, or I’ll blow your f***ing head off.’ He told police they trapped Mr Arbery ‘like a rat’.

Bryan, their neighbour, saw the pursuit and jumped in his own pick-up truck, allegedly swerving towards Mr Arbery four times as their victim desperately tried to outrun the two vehicles – at one point being forced off the road into a ditch.

Finally Travis McMichael had a shotgun and Mr Arbery was left with two bullet holes in his chest.

The prosecutor said: ‘Mr Arbery was under attack from all three of these men.

‘Mr Arbery’s handprints and fibres from his white T-shirt were found on the trucks – that’s how close they were.

The assumptions were the basis of everything done by all three defendants.

They made decisions based on those assumptions that took a young man’s life.’

On Friday, after the controversial almost all-white jury was selected, Travis McMichael’s lawyer said his client had felt a ‘duty’ to protect his ‘quiet, scenic’ neighbourhood and acted in self-defence.

He said: ‘He had no choice because if this guy [Mr Arbery] gets his gun, he’s dead. He was only trying to stop him for the police.’

Three of the defendants could spend up to life in prison for being found guilty. Many believe they will be released on their own terms.

This case is a hot topic from the very beginning.

Because of Gregory McMichael’s connections, two former officers were exonerated by the two prosecutors.

Also, the local district attorney stepped down after writing a letter which caused outrage because he argued that Mr Arbery’s murder might have been ‘justifiable homicide’ under Georgia law.

He noted the McMichaels were carrying firearms legally under the state’s ‘open-carry’ law and were within their rights to ‘pursue a burglary suspect’ under the law, which states: ‘A private person may arrest an offender if the offence is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge.’

But another lawyer disagreed, saying: ‘The law does not allow a group of people to form an armed posse and chase down an unarmed person who they believe might have possibly been the perpetrator of a crime.’

On the morning of Mr Arbery’s murder, CCTV footage was captured inside the perimeter of an unfinished house owned by McMichaels neighbors.

In a video posted on Twitter on May 5 2020, Ahmaud Arbery stumbled and falls to the ground after being shot as Travis McMichael stands by holding a shotgun

Ahmaud arbery stumbles and is knocked to the ground in a Twitter video. Travis McMichael holds a shotgun.

Another theory says that Arbery took nothing and went to the site for a drink.

He had jogged from his home in a traditionally black community called Fancy Bluff – a 25-minute run – on a sweltering day when temperatures were in the nineties.

Satilla Shores was at the edge of its own world, as cars were vandalized and there were numerous cases of trespassing, petty thefts, and car burglaries.

A supporter pointed out that Arbery was a former shoplifter and had taken a gun to high school basketball games.

‘He wasn’t a saint,’ the man said. ‘And he carried on running when they asked him to stop. Why?’

Friends said that the simple answer was obvious. He was afraid.

Akeem Baker, 26, a friend of Mr Arbery, who had a series of menial jobs including working at McDonald’s, said: ‘They treated him as if they were hunting game.’

Since the killing, several of Georgia’s slavery-era laws have been repealed or modified, while a law against hate crimes has been introduced.

Many feel that it’s too little and too late.

A protester outside the court last week said: ‘If you are black in America, you are not safe from police, you are not safe if a white posse wants to chase you down and kill you.’

Unfortunately, it is clear that America still has racism.

While many on the left in Britain claim it is still rampant, the evidence presented at the Glynn County Courthouse in Georgia of this horrendous murder case suggests America needs to heal.