President Biden said the Ahmaud Arbery killing was a ‘devastating reminder’ of racial injustice in the US, but that the guilty verdict shows the ‘justice system doing its job.’
All three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial were found guilty of murdering the black jogger in February 2020 on Wednesday, prompting celebrations in the streets of Georgia.
‘Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country,’ Biden said in a statement, after retiring to Nantucket for the weekend to spend Thanksgiving at billionaire David Rubenstein’s $20 million compound.
‘Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery,’ Biden said.
‘Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.
‘While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. 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.’
‘Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery,’ Biden said
Travis McMichael (left) Greg McMichael (right) and William Bryan (center) were all found guilty of murder charges
The defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery black jogger in February 2020 on Wednesday,
Biden said his administration would continue to ‘do the hard work’ to ensure equal justice under the law becomes a ‘reality for all Americans.’
Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp also weighed in, saying that Arbery had been the victim of ‘vigilantism that has no place in Georgia.’
‘As legal efforts continue to hold accountable all who may be responsible, we hope the Arbery family, the Brunswick community, our state and those around the nation who have been following his case can now move forward down a path of healing and reconciliation.’
The president struck a more defiant tone last week, when he said he was ‘angry and concerned’ after a jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty after the teen killed two people in what it decided was self defense, but added that the ‘jury system works.’
Hours after the verdict was read, Biden told reporters: ‘I stand with the jury as the jury system has concluded. The jury system works and you have to abide by it.’
In an attempt to placate both sides, he later released a statement that read:
‘While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.
‘I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.’
Gunman Travis McMichael was found guilty on the charge of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Three white men were convicted of murder on Wednesday for chasing and shooting Ahmaud Arbery as he ran in their Georgia neighborhood last year. The jury rejected their self-defense claim
Travis McMichael was pictured handcuffed and being escorted out of the courthouse after he was found guilty on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony
As McMichael’s first guilty verdict was read out, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, yelled out ‘Woohoo!,’ briefly delaying the reading of the other verdicts as he was removed from the courtroom.
His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, she sobbed aloud as the first verdict was read: ‘Oh!’ Her head sunk into her chest as she wept, with civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton gripping her hand.
McMichael’s father, Gregory McMichael, was also convicted of murder.
The conviction carries a minimum sentence of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.
Neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
He was found not guilty of malice murder and one count each of felony murder and aggravated assault.
Protestors, civil rights leaders and pastors from across the nation have assembled in Glynn County throughout the duration of the trial, pushing for justice for Arbery and offering support to his family
Outside the Georgia courthouse, demonstrators were seen cheering, crying and celebrating the verdict
The McMichaels armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue Arbery, 25, after he ran past their home after checking out a nearby house under construction.
Their neighbor, Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck, telling police that he tried to run Arbery off the road and then recorded cellphone video as Travis McMichael fired three shotgun blasts before Arbery fell facedown in the street.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him.
During the trial, the prosecution aimed to prove the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about Arbery and sought to rebut arguments that they were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest, which required that someone have ‘reasonable and probable’ suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.
‘They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street,’ Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during her closing arguments.
They killed him ‘not because he’s a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them,’ she alleged.
The state claimed there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood.
Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.
Defense attorney, Jason Sheffield, said his client had ‘reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion’ to follow the 25-year-old in his truck because he believed he was a burglar.
He added that although Arbery was not armed with a weapon, Travis McMichael said he had reached into his shirt as if for a weapon, and he was also armed with his fists.
‘Travis felt something is not right…Aggravated assault is a felony that can be committed by the use of fists. Fists are a weapon. And right now as Ahmaud Arbery is running towards Travis McMichael he could have a gun and he definitely has fists,’ Sheffield said.
On a 911 call the jury reviewed on day two of deliberations, Gregory McMichael told an operator: ‘I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a black male running down the street.’
He then starts shouting, apparently as Arbery is running toward the McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: ‘Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!’
Gunshots can be heard a few second later.
After the verdicts were read out, Arbery’s family watched the verdicts from an overflow room beside the court, saying they ‘finally have some justice’. They clapped and cried out as jurors returned their verdicts before the trio were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.
Yvon Arbery, 57, the deceased’s aunt told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s just so much joy. I feel so much satisfaction, thank you God. This is going to bring big change to Brunswick, Georgia and the rest of the country. It will show everybody know that you cannot have this hatred in your heart and you cannot get away with this anymore.’
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Marcus Arbery, said in a statement to DailyMail.com: ‘Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice.
‘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. While today is not one for celebration, it is one for reflection.’
Travis McMichael, looking red-faced, turned as he stood to leave the courtroom and mouthed ‘love you’ to his mother, Leigh.
‘I’m floored, floored with a capital ‘F,” Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s lawyers, said in the courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, who presided over the trial for their state charges, has not yet set a sentencing date for the three men.
In Georgia, a person convicted of either malice murder or felony murder can face life in prison with or without parole, or the death penalty.
The three men have also been indicted on separate federal hate crime charges, including interference with rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. All three men pleaded not guilty.