On February 22, in BRUNSWICK, Ga., the eve of the second anniversary of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a jury handed down guilty verdicts to Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan for federal hate crimes for violating Arbery's civil rights and targeting him because he was a Black man.
The conviction of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers feels like a small victory for racial justice. Many civil rights leaders are calling this win a reflection of the determination of Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, who had vowed to keep fighting for her son.
The jury also determined the guilt of the three men for attempted kidnapping. Father and son, Gregory and Travis, were also found guilty of the use of a firearm in the commission of a hate crime.
Ahmaud Arbery supporters gather for prayer, protest in Georgia
In presenting the evidence in the form of social media posts, texts, and personal conversations, the prosecution proved the men were motivated by Ahmaud Arbery's Blackness. In presenting evidence, prosecutors brought before the jury text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and William Bryan used racist slurs and made derogatory comments about Black people.
"They were made to do their jobs, it is not what they wanted to do." Adding that prosecutors "chose to ignore the family's cry." Wanda Cooper Jones said it was only the ruling, denying the deals by Judge Wood, that led to Tuesday's verdict.
Not much is likely to change the futures of the men. Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael were sentenced to life in prison following the verdicts in state court, life without the possibility of parole. William Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the consideration of parole after 30 years.