(Reuters) – A Georgia jury convicted three white men of murder on Wednesday for chasing and shooting Ahmaud Arbery as the Black man ran through their mostly white neighborhood in February 2020.
The prosecution was widely watched as another test case of how the U.S. justice system handles the killing of unarmed Black people by white people.
Here are some initial reactions:
* U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement: “Nothing canbring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, butthe verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crimewill be punished. While the guilty verdicts reflect our justicesystem doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we mustrecommit ourselves to building a future of unity and sharedstrength, where no one fears violence because of the color oftheir skin.” * Rev. Al Sharpton said outside the Brunswick, Georgiacourthouse: “Let the word go forth all over the world that ajury of 11 whites and one black in the Deep South stood up inthe courtroom and said that Black lives do matter.” * Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, said in a statement:”Ahmaud Arbery was the victim of a vigilantism that has no placein Georgia. As legal efforts continue to hold accountable allwho may be responsible, we hope the Arbery family, the Brunswickcommunity, our state, and those around the nation who have beenfollowing his case can now move forward down a path of healingand reconciliation.” * Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate,said on Twitter: “A jury believed the evidence of their eyes andsaw the meanness in the killers’ hearts. May this verdict bringa small measure of peace to #AhmaudArbery’s family and lovedones.” * Chris Carr, attorney general of Georgia, said on Twitter:”The loss of Ahmaud Arbery was a tragedy that should have neveroccurred. Today’s verdict brings us one step closer to justice,healing and reconciliation for Ahmaud’s family, the community,the state and the nation.” * Benjamin Crump, attorney for Arbery’s father, said in astatement: “After nearly two years of pain, suffering, andwondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, theArbery family finally has some justice.” * U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia,said on Twitter: “This verdict upholds a sense ofaccountability, but not true justice. True justice looks like aBlack man not having to worry about being harmed—or killed—whileon a jog, while sleeping in his bed, while living what should bea very long life.” * Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty said in astatement: “This story – although devastating – is not new;we’ve seen this play out repeatedly. Vigilantes acting withracial animus take the lives of Black men and boys, and claimself-defense when confronted with the consequences of theiraction. Justice has been served. However, there is still much towork to be done.” * Andrea Young, executive director of ACLU Georgia, said ina statement: “With their verdict, the jury rejected the vestigeof Jim Crow and the assertion of white supremacy that was at thecenter of this case.” * Congresswoman Nikema Williams, chair of the DemocraticParty of Georgia, said in a statement: “While these verdicts areone step towards accountability, they will not bring back Ahmaudor the countless other lives we’ve lost at the hands of whitesupremacy. We must double down on our efforts to fight hatred.” * Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., said onTwitter: “#AhmaudArbery should be here. The McMichaels and Bryanare indeed guilty of taking his life for no other reason thanfor him being Black. I’m praying for and thinking of Ahmaud’sfamily, including his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, who in thismoment, is still missing her son.”
(Reporting by Nathan Layne, Maria Caspani and Gabriella Borter; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)