After nearly two years of anguish, wondering if the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery would be held accountable for their heinous crime, the 25-year-old’s family finally received justice.
On Wednesday, a Glynn County, Georgia, jury convicted Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan of felony murder.
“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump exclaimed. “Nothing will bring back Ahmaud but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called the verdicts long overdue.
“Ahmaud Arbery’s death was unnecessary and fueled by racist ideologies deeply engrained into the fabric of this nation,” Johnson said. “Generations of Black people have seen this time and time again with the murders of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin and many others.
“The actions and events perpetrated by the McMichaels and William Bryan leading up to Ahmaud’s death reflect a growing and deepening rift in America that will be its undoing if not addressed on a systemic level. We must fix what is genuinely harming our nation: white supremacy,” Johnson said.
President Joe Biden agreed, calling Arbery’s death “a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”
“While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough,” the president said in a 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. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.”
The jury found Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery in February 2020, guilty of all nine charges, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.
The panel found his father, Gregory, not guilty of malice murder but convicted him on felony murder, unlawful imprisonment and other charges.
Bryan escaped a guilty verdict on malice murder. But the jury found him guilty of three felony murder counts, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.
The men, who also face federal charges, could be sentenced to life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. Judge Timothy Walmsley bound the men over and with a sentencing date expected to be announced soon.
Immediately following the announcement of the first guilty verdict against Travis McMichael, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, shouted, “long time coming.”
Judge Walmsley asked court officials to remove the senior Arbery.
“Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. This tragedy should have never happened,” said Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings.
“I am keeping his family in my prayers. But we must move forward together to dispel the shadows of our past and to ensure the safety and civil rights of every American,” Demings asserted.
Crump insisted that Black America must keep fighting for civil rights and justice.
“This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed,” Crump demanded. “The violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. Yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws and biases in our system, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice.
“[The verdict] indicates progress but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud,” he said. “Now is not the time to [be] quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.”