President Joe BidenThree men were convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery “reflect our justice system doing its job” ― but he stressed that the country still has a long road ahead in the fight for racial justice.
In Brunswick, Georgia, a jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of felony murder in the February 2020 death of ArberyA 25-year old Black man was out running when he was chased down by the attackers and assaulted. The case sparked national outrage and helped fuel last year’s racial justice protests, which contributed to the killers, all of whom are white, eventually getting charged.
“Ahmaud Arbery’s killing ― witnessed by the world on video ― is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country,” Biden said in a statement. “Mr. Arbery ought to be present today celebrating the holidays together with Wanda Cooper Jones (his mother) and Marcus Arbery (his father). Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.”
Arbery was chased by the McMichaels father and son in their pickup truck. They then attacked and shot him. Bryan followed the chase and captured it. They claimed that the men were guilty. they were attempting a “citizen’s arrest”Arbery’s neighborhood was concerned about theft, however there is not evidence Arbery actually stole anything. After Arbery’s death, state lawmakers repealed the citizen’s arrest law in Georgia.
There were 11 black members on the jury which convicted them. There was initially controversy about the jury’s composition due to potential racial bias.
After the verdict, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she “never saw this day back in 2020” and that she “never thought this day would come, but God is good.”
“While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough,” Biden said in his statement. “Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.”
Vice-President Kamala Harris released her own statement on the verdicts, saying she shares “in that pain” that Arbery’s family and community feel in his absence.
“These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do,” she said. “The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidationDehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. These tactics did not deter the jury from reaching its verdict.
“Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. He had meaning in his life. We won’t forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.”
A former prosecutor protected the men by not pressing charges. A grand jury indicted the original prosecutor on a felony charge of violating her oath of office because she allegedly used her position as the area’s top prosecutor to discourage police from arresting the killers. The second prosecution recused himselfGregory McMichael is his professional connection a former investigator in the Brunswick District Attorney’s office. McMichael had been a cop seven years prior to that.
Men weren’t charged in Arbery’s murder until 74 days laterWhen the online video of the execution was published, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
“A modern day lynching, in broad daylight on an American neighborhood street, was excused initially by law enforcement who accepted the world of the lynch mob without question,” leaders of the National Urban League said in a joint statement.
“Thanks to faithful prayer and a skilled prosecution, we are relieved to know that the jury was able to see the truth and hold these killers accountable for the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery,” the NUL leaders said. “Still, we must dedicate ourselves to shining the light of scrutiny on what happened in this case to ensure that racially-motivated vigilante violence never again is condoned or tolerated.”
A jury from Kenosha (Wisconsin) was elected days earlier. acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two men and wounding anotherUsing an AK style semiautomatic weapon in a protest against Jacob Blake’s police shooting, a Black man. The acquittal was followed by Biden said “the jury system works”He urged them not to get violent.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” he said last week. “I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.”