The trial began last month to decide the fates of Gregory and Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan, the men that chased down, and killed Ahmuad Arbery in February 2020, while he was running through his neighborhood. The defense struck 11 potential Black jurors from the jury pool, leaving the final jury comprised of 11 white jurors and one black juror. While the men were charged with a myriad of crimes, and found guilty of most, most importantly, today, the jury returned a verdict finding each of the men involved in Ahmaud’s death guilty of murder.
Still reeling from last week’s Rittenhouse acquittal, today’s verdict provides some indication that all hope is not lost for the American justice system, and hopefully sends a message to racists that you cannot just take the law into your own hands, kill Black people, and get away with it.
The last few weeks have left minorities reflecting over inequities in our justice system. Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he was shot and killed by the police for having a toy gun.
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed for walking through his own neighborhood with only a bag of candy in his pocket. In Wisconsin, the two white men that Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed were at the rally as allies of the Black community after deeming Jacob Blake’s shooting by the Kenosha police an injustice. Rittenhouse’s acquittal was a slap in the face to those victims’ families, and essentially sent dog whistles that not only are Black lives not safe, but there is a target on the back of Black allies as well.
While there is still a great deal of work to be done to balance the scales of justice in this country, today’s verdict restores some hope that justice is at least a possibility.
“Admittedly, after seeing the makeup of the jury, I grew concerned about whether the jury made up of the majority would place the value due on Arbery’s life. Unfortunately, the news headlines of our day don’t leave much room for confidence that white America sees value in the lives of Black men. True justice would be Ahmaud spending Thanksgiving with his family, but today’s verdict is the next best consolation,” stated NBA President Carlos Moore.
The National Bar Association continues to stand in solidarity with the Arbery family, and sends its heartfelt condolences as well as prayers for comfort during this difficult experience. The NBA remains on the forefront of initiatives to ensure an equitable society and more just, diverse, and inclusive American legal system.