Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Found Guilty of Hate Crime

Ahmaud Arberys Killers Found Guilty of Hate Crime

By Eunice Chi, Staff Writer

In February of 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was murdered in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was jogging when three men  — Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael (Travis’ Father), and neighbor William Bryan — got into their vehicles and pursued Arbery. He was shot three times by Travis, and the recording of the pursuit stirred national criticism and outrage.

The three men were arrested last May and have each pleaded guilty to nine charges including murder and aggravated assault. In the trial, prosecutors argued that racism was a key factor in the case. Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury that “All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions – not on facts, not on evidence.” Prosecutors used police body cam footage to argue against the defense’s claim, which was that the 3 men were only trying to detain Arbery. They also showed several text messages and social media posts made by Travis McMichael and Bryan, using racial slurs and making racist comments about Black people. Two women also came forward and testified that the McMichaels had made such comments to them before, as one woman testified that Gregory McMichael had told her, “All those Blacks are nothing but trouble.”

The defense for the McMichaels and Bryan argued that the men did not pursue and kill Arbery because of his race, but because of the suspicion that he had committed crimes in their neighborhood.

Dunikoski also stated that “You can’t create the situation and then go ‘I was defending myself.'” Before the hate crimes trial, the McMichaels had both agreed to plead guilty on the condition of serving their sentences in federal, not state prison. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood turned this deal down.

Almost 2 years after Arbery’s death and months after they were convicted of murder in a Georgia court, a jury has found the 3 men guilty of all charges in the federal hate crimes trial. The McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty of interference of rights, a federal hate crime, and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also convicted of using a firearm to carry out a violent crime. They face up to life in prison as well as fines.

As the verdicts were read, Arbery’s family, as well as several jurors, cried. Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., bowed his head and shook his fists. Attorney for the Arbery family, Ben Crump, commented, “Thank God for this good morning, that Wanda and Marcus have prayed for. It is because of their conviction to get full justice, not partial justice … (that) we get to celebrate this moment.”

“Although we welcome the jury’s verdict, the only acceptable outcome in this matter would have been Mr. Arbery returning safely to his loved ones two years ago. … Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today,” commented U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Junior Deanna Gaber commented that “I agree with the ruling, it tells us that racism in America is alive and well and nothing will change or get better unless a precedent is set by holding racists accountable with the full force of the law.”