Ahmaud Arbery: Atlanta mayor accuses Trump of inciting racist acts | Ahmaud Arbery

The Democratic mayor of Atlanta has called the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by two white men in February, a “lynching”.

Keisha Lance Bottoms also accused Donald Trump of inciting overt acts of racism.

Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the rising star within the Democratic party said the killing of Arbery, 25, was “heartbreaking”.

The two white men, father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, were charged with murder and aggravated assault on Thursday after video of a confrontation involving an unarmed Arbery, who was African American, was made public.

Asked if the former county police officer and his son would have been charged had the video not been posted online, Bottoms said: “Had we not seen that video I don’t think they would have been charged.”

She went on: “It’s 2020 and this was a lynching of an African American man.”

The Guardian has disclosed that police in Glynn county, Georgia, where Arbery was killed while out jogging in a quiet suburban street, failed to conduct a thorough investigation.

The idea that the incident was a lynching has also been expressed by the dead man’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr, in an interview with the Guardian.

Bottoms’ words carry added weight because she is seen as an increasingly prominent voice in Georgia. As the black mayor of the state’s largest city, she has been talked about as a possible vice-presidential candidate for Joe Biden.

On Sunday, Bottoms was sharply critical of Trump and the US justice department under his leadership.

“With the rhetoric we hearing coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way we otherwise would not see in 2020,” she said.

When local police forces failed to take action against alleged racial killings in the past, she said, there used to be the justice department as a “backstop” ensuring appropriate prosecutions.

“We don’t have that leadership at the top right now. It’s disheartening.”

Trump has commented on Arbery’s death, telling Fox News: “My heart goes out to the parents and the family and friends.”

“Justice getting done is the thing that solves that problem,” the president added, saying Georgia governor Brian Kemp and state law enforcement would look at the case “very strongly”.

On Sunday, Georgia’s attorney general formally requested that the US department of justice investigate the handling of the killing. Arbery’s parents welcomed the move.

“There are far too many questions about how this case was handled and why it took 74 days for two of the killers to be arrested and charged,” a statement from their lawyers said. “Those who were responsible for this travesty of justice must be held accountable.”

The FBI has said it is assisting with the investigation. At a briefing on Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not rule out justice department involvement in the case.

On Sunday, Bottoms gave a personal twist on her excoriating comments when she talked about her four children, three of whom are boys.

“They are angry and afraid,” she said. “It speaks to the need to have leadership at the top that cares about all our communities, not just in words but in deeds as well.”