Once again, a predominantly white jury in Georgia has found three white men guilty in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. According to ABC news, the jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan guilty on all counts in the hate crimes case. The jury was comprised of eight whites, three Blacks, and one Hispanic. Ironically, they came to their decision on the eve of the anniversary of Arbery’s murder. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, is obviously happy, though none of this returns her 25-year-old son to her. She said to everyone listening: “Ahmaud will continue to rest in peace, but he will now rest in power.” Yes, he will. His death stands as a symbol to racist whites everywhere that murder is equal in the eyes of the law.
ABC News reported that the jury deliberated for less than four hours before finding that all three men were motivated by racial hate in depriving Arbery of his civil rights and attempted kidnapping. Both Travis and Greg McMichael were additionally convicted of carrying, brandishing, and discharging a weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. Travis McMichael repeatedly denied being racist, but his online activity firmly contradicted his testimony. Amy Vaughn, an FBI analyst, testified that she found “a digital onslaught of messages” from Travis McMichael using racial slurs and advocating violence against Black people. Vaughn testified about McMichael’s reaction to a confrontation between two whites and two Blacks, saying that “Black people need to be made examples of” and that “they’d be scraping up brain matter if this happened to my wife or daughter.” Yet another witness, a childhood friend of Travis McMichael’s named Derek Thomas, testified that he was “shocked by a violent, racist response” given by Travis McMichael to a video depicting a Black man playing a prank on a white friend. The FBI even uncovered a derogatory post from Bryan about his own daughter because she began a relationship with a Black man. The racism of these three men knew no bounds, yet they claimed in court to be anything but racists. Thanks to the testimony delivered to an open-minded, predominantly white jury, these claims fell on deaf ears.
Following the verdict Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed reporters, indicating that the DOJ “will not hesitate to act when individuals commit violent acts that are motivated by bias or hate,” yet the prosecutor in this case wanted to let these three off easy. Arbery’s mother stood her ground, and Judge Lisa Godbey Wood supported her. Arbery’s family is not done. They have vowed to ensure that former Brunswick Judicial Circuit DA Jackie Johnson is convicted of using her position to protect the McMichaels from prosecution. It took the leaked video from Bryan to make Georgia Governor Brian Kemp bring in the GBI to take over investigation of this case. Had that not happened, these men would never have been brought to justice.
Justice has almost been fully secured in this case. When Jackie Johnson is tried and convicted, justice will be complete.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years