Ahmaud Arbery Murder: Sentenced Men Face Hate Crime Charges next

Ahmaud Arbery Murder: Sentenced Men Face Hate Crime Charges next

A US jury this week convicted three white men of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was prosecuted and shot while jogging in Georgia last year, in a decision that was hailed as bringing some justice to the Arbery family.
The 11-member jury in Brunswick, Georgia, on Wednesday found Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of murdering the 25-year-old, among other charges.

“A jury believed the evidence in their eyes and saw the wickedness in the hearts of the killers. May this verdict bring some peace to the family and loved ones of #AhmaudArbery ”, Stacey Abrams, a former candidate for governor of Georgia, noted on Twitter.

The three men pursued Arbery on February 23, 2020, through the coastal community of Satilla Shores, just outside of Brunswick, and killed him with a shotgun. They face life in prison, and a judge will decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

While the McMichaels and Bryan are expected to appeal their convictions, they also face an upcoming federal trial in which they will face hate crimes charges.

All three have pleaded not guilty in what will be an entirely separate case unaffected by the outcome of the state trial this week – and which, according to a civil rights lawyer representing the Arbery family, will offer a final chance to reach the “crux” of what he called a lynching.

“It was based on the color of Ahmaud Arbery’s skin,” Benjamin Crump told Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick ahead of the verdict being read on Wednesday.

Graphic video of Arbery’s murder was leaked two months after the three men pursued and fatally shot him in the largely white community.

This fueled mass public protests against anti-black racism and self-defense, as well as calls for accountability, and prompted Georgia state officials to take up the case and ultimately indict the trio.

The federal indictment charges the three men with hate crimes, claiming they violated Arbery’s civil rights by chasing and killing him because he was black, among other charges. It does not show what evidence prosecutors might present to convince a jury that racism played a role.

The Arbery family are hopeful that the evidence for the racist language allegedly used by Travis McMichael, none of which was shown to the Glynn County jury, will ultimately be examined by the court system, Crump said.

In pre-trial motions, state prosecutors told the court they had evidence of “racial animosity” motivating the defendants. At a bail hearing, they said Travis McMichael, 35, used racial slurs on social media and in a text message.

During a preliminary hearing, an investigator said Bryan told him he heard McMichael use an insult as he stood over Arbery’s body, although McMichael’s lawyers expressed doubts on Bryan’s reliability.

Prosecutors also decided not to show the jury the vanity license plate young McMichael affixed to his pickup truck in 2020. The plate features the old Georgia state flag, which prominently incorporates the flag. Confederate battle.

A debate has taken place across the United States in recent years over the symbols, statues and monuments related to the Confederacy, a group of 11 states in the southern United States that fought against the abolition of slavery. in the 1860s.

Person reacts outside Glynn County courthouse after jury returned guilty verdict on Wednesday [Octavio Jones/Reuters]

Critics have said such monuments are a display of white supremacy, slavery and decades of institutional racism, while supporters contend they demonstrate Southern pride.

“You better believe that a federal judge will be willing to hear evidence of racial animosity, including specific text messages, when racial animus is a key part of the charge,” Ayesha Bell Hardaway, director of Social Justice from Case Western Reserve University. Institute, the Reuters news agency said.

The US Department of Justice said in a statement that there may be some witness overlap between the two cases, but that they were otherwise independent of each other.

Lawyers representing the three men in the federal lawsuit declined or did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has scheduled jury selection in the federal trial to begin on February 7.


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