Leaders in the D.C. area shared their reactions to the guilty verdict in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was running through a Georgia neighborhood when white strangers shot and killed him with a shotgun.
The jury took about 10 hours to deliberate and convict Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and neighbor William Bryan Jr., who joined the pursuit and recorded a video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery, The Associated Press reported. They face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Prince George’s County, Maryland, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said justice has been served in the guilty verdicts. Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando said the work continues, along with a post of Vice President Kamala Harris’ statement on the verdict.
Ben Jealous, a former Democratic nominee for Maryland governor and the former head of the NAACP, said it was a “good day for America” and it’s proof that the jury system can work.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said that he was relieved that the verdict brought accountability, as the country “works to dismantle the painful architecture of discrimination against Black Americans.”
Former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey told WTOP that he is pleased with the result of the case.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in this country, but hopefully, we can move it in the right direction,” Ivey said.
He was worried whether the country is on the right track in terms of finding justice in cases such as this.
Just a day earlier, a jury ordered 17 white nationalist leaders and their organizations to pay more than $26 million in damages over the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Earlier this week, Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who fatally shot two men and wounded another during protests in Wisconsin following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, was acquitted of all charges.
Last April, a jury convicted a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd, whose death sparked worldwide protests calling for racial justice and police reform.
Video evidence played a huge role in Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the death of Floyd, and Ivey is concerned going forward to get a conviction in these types of cases, “Do you have to have video of clear evidence of guilt?”
Arbery was jogging in the Georgia subdivision when he was killed. Arbery’s father said his son “didn’t do nothing but run and dream,” The Associated Press reported.
“If George Floyd was about serious problems in American policing, what about this case in terms of a person of color going about his life and still being in danger for doing what we call routine things,” Ivey said.
Braveboy said the case gave rise to concerns of African Americans being able to “do the basic things in life without being unjustly accused or fearing for our lives because of the color of our skin.”
Ivey described the conviction in the Arbery case and the acquittal in the Rittenhouse case a “toss up” in the sort of vigilante approach that many citizens want to take, especially with respect to Black men.
Braveboy echoed Ivey’s concern saying that the McMichaels and Bryan took the law into their own hands and took another man’s life, which she said is “unacceptable.”