Eric Terrell, vice president of the National Action Network, holds a banner with photos of William Roddie Bryan, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichal and former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson outside the Glynn County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the trial of the killers of Ahmaud Arbery on November 24, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Arbery's Murderers Found Guilty of Federal Hate Crimes

"Ahmaud Arbery was lynched in broad daylight," said the NAACP's president, "and today's verdict brings us one step closer to justice."

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A jury on Tuesday found three white men who murdered unarmed Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery guilty of federal hate crimes.

Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. "are accused of interfering with Arbery's right to use a public street because of his race as well as attempted kidnapping," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "The McMichaels are also accused of using weapons during a crime of violence because both were armed during the deadly chase."

The verdict came about three months after the trio was found guilty of murdering the 25-year-old Black man in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020. They were each sentenced to life in prison last month and only Bryan was given the possibility of parole.

Ben Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney who represented the Arbery family, has said that the murder was "so reminiscent of the motivations for lynchings." Crump on Tuesday welcomed the development, joined by Ahmaud Arbery's parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Cooper-Jones called out the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for proposed plea deals with the McMichaels that were ultimately rejected by U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood.

"They ignored my cry," Cooper-Jones said of members of the Justice Department directly involved in the case. "I begged them."

"That's not justice for Ahmaud," she said of the DOJ's attempted plea deals. "What we got today, we wouldn't have gotten today if it wasn't for the fight that the family put up."

"The guilty verdict of the three murderers of Ahmaud Arbery of hate crimes is a precedent-setting verdict," Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted Tuesday. "Even in the Deep South the feds will convict you of hate actions. I salute Ahmaud's parents for forcing the trial."

NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement that "two years ago today, none of us knew of Ahmaud Arbery. But two years ago tomorrow, his story shook the conscience of our nation and world. Ahmaud Arbery was lynched in broad daylight, and today's verdict brings us one step closer to justice."

Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way, declared that "this is a just verdict for three men that chased, cornered, and killed Ahmaud Arbery."

"This is the kind of accountability we must have to address the ongoing terror of white supremacy that's reigned in our country for hundreds of years, where Black people can be killed with impunity," Jealous added. "We must continue to fight for justice for every American who has been the victim of white domestic terrorism and the injustice it fosters."

Others also recognized the fight ahead. As the advocacy group NARAL Pro-choice America put it: "This shred of justice only points to a larger problem, how insidious white supremacy and white supremacist violence is within this country."

The jury in the case consisted of eight white members, three Black people, and one Hispanic person, according to the Journal. They deliberated for less than four hours.

"I, as a mom, will never heal," said Cooper-Jones. "We got a victory today, but there's so many families who don't get victories."

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