Georgia men plead not guilty to U.S. hate crime charges in death of Arbery

Black History Month Memorial Ride in Brunswick, Georgia
A mural depicts shot Black man Ahmaud Arbery as a Black History Month Memorial Ride is held in memory of those who have died through race-related violence, in Brunswick, Georgia, U.S., February 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Photo

ATLANTA, May 11 (Reuters) - Three Georgia men pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal hate crime charges in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was gunned down last year while jogging through a suburban neighborhood.

Arbery was running through a south Georgia coastal community outside the town of Brunswick in February 2020 when three men chased him down. The men later told police they thought he was a burglar and were seeking to make a citizen's arrest.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice brought hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges against the men, former police officer Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan.

Each entered a not guilty plea on Tuesday during an appearance before federal magistrate judge Benjamin W. Cheesbro in the U.S. Southern District Court in Brunswick.

The McMichaels and Bryan already face state criminal charges of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Civil rights advocates have accused authorities of being slow to seek justice in the case, with no arrests made for 10 weeks after the incident, and then only after video footage of the shooting posted on social media stoked public outrage.

The video showed Arbery jogging down a two-lane street, then being shot with a rifle as he was confronted by two armed men who had stopped their pickup in his path.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by David Gregorio

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