This is the moment at which the audience is most strongly drawn in as a force to observe the historical horror and recognize that "we're them." Not only has the audience's favorite character been killed by humans instead of by zombies, but additionally he is being treated like "meat" even by the humans. This is the deep significance of the hunters carrying meat hooks rather than (for example) crowbars: humans just like zombies consider those they have destroyed to be nothing more than meat. Humans, like zombies, kill and eat living beings, and the meat hooks which pull out Ben would otherwise be used for other carcasses of other beings humans had killed. Of course, this is not just a message about vegetarianism. It is a message about the way in which humans objectify each other and this leads to racial violence and holocausts.
This movie very bravely dares to go against the racial conventions of its day in casting a black lead, and dealing subtly and metaphorically with the damage done to him. This sequence in particular, which shows white men dragging a brave and noble black man through the fields to be burned surely had strong connotations in 1968 in the middle of civil rights battles and race riots. That George Ramero claims the casting was totally color-blind may indicate either that this subtext was created after the casting, or that somehow evolved unnoticed by the director himself. However, it is certainly present for the audience in this scene. If nothing else, the audience must face its own racial position in its feelings regarding the life and death of Ben, and the very recognition of such human violence reinforced the central message that zombies and humans are more alike than they are different.
In conclusion, this sequence is probably the single most important one in the movie, though of course it cannot stand alone without all the foreshadowing and characterization that proceeds it. In this scene, through plot and genre twists, through tricks of technique and lighting, and through the careful manipulation of the audience, Ramero creates what is probably the single most memorable and influential sequence in zombie film history.