Authorities in Georgia have arrested a 20-year-old man on terrorism-related charges for allegedly threatening future protests in the shooting death of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, officials said.
Rashawn Smith was taken into custody in Midway, Georgia, and charged with dissemination of information relating to terroristic acts, the Georgia Bureau of Information said Sunday night.
“Smith created a Facebook User ID of an unwitting individual to post a hoax threat,” the agency said in a tweet.
The GBI said it was made aware of the Facebook post at about 11:55 p.m. Saturday.
Smith’s arrest comes two days after hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Glynn County courthouse, calling for justice in Arbery’s death, while ex-cop Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, made their first appearance before a judge via video conference from the Glynn County jail.
“It’s a cowardly move,” protest organizer Travis Riddle told First Coast News after Smith’s arrest.
“We’re expecting the cowards to come out now. I think they’re afraid of what we’re trying to get to. They see everybody coming together, young, old, white, black,” Riddle told the news outlet.
“That’s different than the approach they came up with that’s now fading away. We’re now moving towards something bigger and better, so I think they’re trying to put a fear tactic together,” he said, adding that he and other organizers are taking the threat seriously.
“We’re not going to take it lightly by any means, but we’re also not going to let it stop us from getting the message across that we want justice for Ahmaud. We want justice for Brunswick, as well as the whole United States. Enough is enough,” Riddle said.
Riddle said organizers will meet this week to decide what actions to take to ensure safety.
“We want to make sure the message is getting heard without jeopardizing people’s safety,” he said. “This is the work of some cowards, and we’re dealing with some cowards right now, but they’re not going to stop us.”
The two white men were charged with murder last week by state prosecutors, weeks after Arbery’s Feb. 23 death, which was captured in a horrific video.
The footage shows a pickup truck driven by Gregory cut off Arbery as he jogs by. Travis then exits the vehicle with a shotgun and confronts Arbery.
The two struggle over the weapon, and Arbery is shot and staggers away briefly before falling, mortally wounded.
The McMichaels told police they believed the 25-year-old was a burglar.