If you watched the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, you saw that there was no specific reason to expect that they’d go free. The judge acted like, well, a judge. Defense attorneys weren’t allowed to get away with anything improper. Yet because we’re all reeling from the deranged antics of the judge in the Rittenhouse trial, and because Black people like Ahmaud Arbery all too rarely get justice when murdered by white people, there was plenty of reason to worry about the verdict.
Fortunately, the verdict went roughly the way that one could have predicted based on watching the trial. All three defendants were found guilty of felony murder, meaning they’re going to prison for much or all of the rest of their lives. The one who pulled the trigger was also found guilty of malice murder, which in Georgia is a more severe charge than felony murder.
This verdict puts racists everywhere on notice that if they run around with their guns and begin harassing and shooting Black people, they’re not automatically going to get away with it. This comes after the Chauvin trial put the worst of police officers on notice that if they unjustifiably kill a Black person, they’re not automatically going to get away with it either. They can hope they end up in front of someone like the Rittenhouse judge, but that’s a pretty big gamble to take.
So on this Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for justice being served in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, and in the trial of George Floyd’s killer. Of course real justice would mean that Arbery and Floyd were still alive. And we can’t pretend that these kinds of glaring societal problems involving race, guns, and police have magically been solved just because two criminal trials went the way they were supposed to. But it’s a start, and something we need to work to build on going forward.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report