The three men convicted of murder last November in the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty on additional hate crimes charges. Tuesday’s guilty verdict for Travis McMichael, his father Greg and their neighbor William “Roddie” Brown wrapped up a week-long federal trial. In addition to being found guilty of violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black, the three were convicted of attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.
“They [federal prosecutors] stood up for Ahmaud, to say that Ahmaud’s life mattered,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Tuesday. “That Ahmaud will never be forgotten. That Ahmaud Arbery will be in the history books, not only for the state of Georgia, but for the United States of America.”
The hate crimes charge carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. Tuesday’s conviction was more of a symbolic one, with the McMichaels already facing life in prison without the chance for parole, and Brown facing life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.
However, the Arbery family and supporters said the hate crimes trial was important to establish that racism motivated his murder. During the trial, prosecutors showed roughly two dozen text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan used racist slurs and made derogatory comments about Black people.
“No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate fueled violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a Tuesday news conference. The video above include clips from the news conference. “No one should fear that if they go out for a run, they will be targeted and killed because of the color of their skin.”
While they celebrated victory, supporters for Arbery also called out the Justice Department Tuesday. DOJ prosecutors had actually reached a plea deal with the McMichaels and Brown that would’ve avoided the hate crimes trial altogether. However, a judge rejected the deal in a rare move last month after the Arbery family asked her not to accept it.
“Even after the family stood before the judge and asked them, asked the judge to not take this plea deal, the lead prosecutor, Tara Lyons, stood up and asked the judge to ignore the family’s cry,” said. “That’s not – that’s not justice for Ahmaud. What we got today, we wouldn’t have gotten today if it wasn’t for the fight that the family put up.”