Atlanta mayor on Ahmaud Arbery shooting: White House rhetoric gives 'permission' to those 'prone to being racist'

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsAtlanta mayor: Trump would 'eat his own children' if it helped him Biden to air 90-minute radio programs targeting Black voters Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (D) said Sunday that rhetoric from the White House gives “permission” to people who are “prone to being racist.”

Her comments on CNN's "State of the Union" were in response to questions regarding the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man killed in February. 

Bottoms said the circumstances surrounding Arbery’s death are part of a larger issue around the country. 


“The rhetoric that we hear coming out of the White House in many ways, I think many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way in a way we wouldn't [otherwise] see in 2020,” she said. 

Bottoms said if local leadership fails in cities across the country, the Justice Department is supposed to step in and “make sure people are appropriately prosecuted.” 

“But we don't have that leadership at the top right now,” she said. “It's disheartening. I have four kids, three of whom are African-American boys. They are afraid, they are angry.”

Video footage showing Arbery’s killing in Georgia was released last week, and the lack of an arrest led to nationwide outrage. Two white men, a father and son, were arrested in association with the shooting after the video went viral. 

“I think had we not seen that video I don't think they would be charged,” Bottoms said on CNN. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s 2020 and this was a lynching of an African American man.”

Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested last week, more than three months after Arbery’s death, and accused of fatally shooting Arbery. 

The McMichaels were reportedly denied bond by a judge Friday.