President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that while the convictions of three men in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery were a reflection of a functioning justice system, there is still a long way to go on racial justice.
“Although the guilty verdicts reflect that our justice system is doing its job, it is not enough,” Biden said in a written statement shortly after the verdicts were announced in Brunswick, Georgia. “Instead, we must re-commit to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.”
Three white men were convicted on Wednesday of felony murder in the shooting death of Arbery, 25, who was running around their neighborhood when they chased and confronted him last year.
Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, face life in prison for state crimes.
The men are also expected to be tried in February on federal hate crime charges. Arbery’s family and civil rights leaders compared his death to a modern day lynching.
Vice President Kamala Harris said the verdicts “send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do.”
“Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning,” she said. “We will not forget him. We honor him as best we can by continuing the fight for justice.”
The McMichaels and Bryans chased Arbery in pickup trucks after spotting him in their neighborhood outside of Brunswick on February 23, 2020. Travis McMichael shot Arbery with a shotgun at close range. Bryan recorded the fatal encounter on his cell phone; the video was finally made public.
Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., says the verdict “Maintains a sense of responsibility but not true justice. “
“True justice is like a black man who doesn’t have to worry about being hurt – or killed – while jogging, sleeping in bed, while living what should be a very long life,” did he declare. “Ahmaud should be with us today.”
Republican Governor Brian Kemp said in a report that Arbery was “the victim of a vigilantism which has no place in Georgia”.
“As legal efforts continue to hold all those who may be responsible to account, we hope that the Arbery family, the community of Brunswick, our state and all those who have followed his case across the country can now move forward on the path. healing and reconciliation, ”he added. Kemp said.
The deaths of Arbery and George Floyd fueled racial justice protests across the country last year.
Biden said Arbery’s murder was a “devastating reminder of how far we must go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”
“Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and his community, but the verdict guarantees that those who committed this horrific crime will be punished,” he said.
Gregorian Dareh contributed.