Ahmaud Arbery Verdict: Conviction of men who killed unarmed Black jogger a necessary step, but issues in our justice system must still be addressed
A jury today convicted Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The trio, all of whom are white, jumped into a truck and chased Arbery, a Black man who was jogging through a south Georgia neighborhood outside of Brunswick, and then shot him.
After the graphic video of Arbery’s death became public, nationwide protests occurred. The Georgia Legislature also repealed the state’s citizen arrest law which was invoked by the defendants to justify their murder of Arbery.
That video shows Arbery running toward a pickup truck with Travis McMichael standing next to it armed with a shotgun. Arbery tries to run around McMichael but is blocked. The two struggle and McMichael shoots Arbery with the shotgun.
Arbery was not armed when he was killed.
This verdict was necessary. Through this conviction, the criminal justice system has begun to address the pervasive inequities that exist when it comes to the treatment of Black and Brown people. However, the system and those responsible for prosecuting such crimes must face the reality that, while there was video documentation of this murder, that is not the case for most crimes that occur in our country.
It is important to remember that the first prosecutor who reviewed this case, who had worked with Gregory McMichael, attempted to clear these men of all charges and is now facing criminal charges herself for her conduct in this case. If that sickening video had never become public, we almost certainly would not have had today's verdict, or any trial at all.
The fact that justice was done in this case does not deny the reality that countless Black men are targeted and killed for no reason other than the color of their skin. Incidents like these will continue to occur until our criminal legal system is truly focused on combating anti-Black crime and white supremacy. The disgraceful racially charged antics of the defense throughout the trial are a stark reminder of these challenges that lie ahead.
Our hearts go out to the family of Ahmaud Arbery, and we will continue to stand with them in their search for justice.
Photo above: Small oil on canvas portraits, like this one of Ahmaud Arbery in Detroit, are part of the Healing Wall installation created by artist Carol Morisseau for the Soul of Black Folks exhibition, curated by the artist Donna Jackson’s partnership with Scarab Club in Detroit. The photograph of the oil painting was taken on Feb. 4, 2021. Credit: USATNSYNDICATION