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Federal hate crimes were committed by Arbery murderers in the death of his killer

Three white men were convicted of murder in Ahmaud arbery's shooting. They were found guilty Tuesday of federal hate crimes.

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Federal hate crimes were committed by Arbery murderers in the death of his killer

This verdict confirmed what civil rights activists and family members had said for years: that he was Black and chased down and murdered.

The verdict was handed down just one day before the second anniversary Arbery's murder on February 23, 2020. It was symbolic because it came only months after all three defendants had been convicted of murder by a Georgia state court. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Family and community members saw the hate crime trial as a significant statement. After Arbery's murder was revealed online, the case became part of a wider national reckoning about racial injustice.

"Ahmaud's peace will not be disturbed. However, he will now rest in power," Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones told reporters outside the courthouse.

Marcus Arbery Sr. Arbery's father bowed and raised his fists in silent celebration as the guilty verdicts were read out in courtroom. Then, he pressed his hands together to his face like a silent prayer.

Arbery Sr., Cooper-Jones and Ben Crump walked out of the courthouse holding hands. They then raised their hands to cheers from their supporters.

Cooper-Jones didn't call the result a victory.

She said, "We will never win as a family because Ahmaud has gone forever."

Arbery Sr. recalled that his son used call his family every day to let them know he loved them.

He said, "Ahmaud is a child you can't substitute because of his heart." He said, "I struggle with that every day." It hurts me every single day."

Greg and Travis McMichael, the defendants, sat silently at the defense table while the guilty verdicts were read. The father and son answered the question with quiet voices when they were called to speak one-at-a time before the judge.

Both William Bryan Bryan and McMichaels were convicted of attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also found guilty.

The trial was simultaneously taking place with the one of three Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights. Floyd, a Black man was killed by Derek Chauvin, who pinned him down and held his neck with one hand for 9 1/2 minutes. On Tuesday, the closing arguments were delivered by the attorneys in that case.

The McMichaels and McMichaels entered guilty pleas to hate crimes weeks before the Arbery murder trial. They were able to serve their sentences at federal prisons, instead of state. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rescinded the deal, claiming it would tie her hands at sentence and after Arbery’s family strongly opposed it.

Cooper-Jones stated Tuesday that "What we got today, would not have been possible if it weren't for the fight of the family for Ahmaud." She reaffirmed her anger at Justice Department prosecutors who, she claimed, "chosen to ignore the family’s cry."

During the hate crime trial, the facts of the case weren't disputed. After seeing Arbery running through their neighborhood, the McMichaels grabbed guns from his friend and took to the road in a pickup truck in pursuit. Bryan joined the chase in his pickup truck and recorded the cellphone video, which was later posted online.

Prosecutors presented approximately two dozen text messages and social-media posts that Travis McMichael, Bryan made racist comments and made derogatory remarks about Black people to back hate crime charges. Because Greg McMichael was using an encrypted phone, the FBI couldn't access it.

Travis McMichael commented in 2018 on a Facebook clip of a Black man playing an prank on a White person: "I would kill that f ----ing r."

A woman who was a Coast Guard officer under Travis McMichael a decade ago claimed that he called her "n ----r love" after she discovered that he had dated a Black man. Another witness testified Greg McMichael had argued with her in 2015 after she made a comment about Julian Bond's death. She said, "All those Blacks, you are nothing but trouble."

Crump commented after the verdict, "For many of us there was never any doubt Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael targeted Ahmaud due to his skin color."

He said, "But because indisputable evidence, disgusting texts sent by defendants, witness testimony, and their hatred was revealed to the universe and the jury,". "We demand and hope that their severe crimes are also reflected in sentencing."

U.S. Attorney-General Merrick Garland stated that the verdict "makes it clear that the Justice Department continues to use every resource available to confront unlawful acts and hate and hold those responsible accountable."

Garland said that Arbery's friends and family should be "preparing to celebrate his 28th Birthday, later in the spring, rather than mourning tomorrow's second anniversary of his passing."

He said, "Ahmaud arbery should still be alive today."

Defense lawyers argued that Bryan and McMichaels didn't chase Arbery and kill him because of his race, but rather because they had a genuine suspicion that Arbery was guilty of crimes in their area.

Amy Lee Copeland, A.J. Balbo declined to comment on this verdict. Bryan's lawyer, Pete Theodocion did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Monday's case was received by a jury consisting of eight white men, three Black people, and one Hispanic individual. After three hours of deliberations, the jurors adjourned Monday night and deliberated for approximately an hour Tuesday morning before reaching a decision.



 

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