Joe Biden and Kamala Harris respond to guilty verdicts

A painting by Ahmaud Arbery is on display during a vigil at the New Springfield Baptist Church on February 23, 2021 in Waynesboro, GA.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said Wednesday’s convictions by a Georgian jury of three white men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger, “reflected our justice system doing its job.”

“But that’s not enough,” the president said in a statement following the verdicts. “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.”

Arbery, 25, was shot dead in February 2020 by the accused Travis McMichael, who was then accompanied by the two other defendants, Gregory McMichael and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.

The three men had spotted Arbery jogging in their neighborhood and chased him in vans before killing him.

Each man was convicted of nine counts of murder and related crimes on Wednesday after an emotional trial that lasted 13 days. Biden called the murder a “horrible crime”.

“The murder of Ahmaud Arbery – which the whole world witnessed on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we must go in the fight for racial justice in this country,” Biden said.

“Mr. Arbery should be here today to celebrate the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and his community. “

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, left, is comforted by Reverend Al Sharpton after the jury’s verdict is announced in the trial of Greg McMichel and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in Glynn County. Courthouse on November 24, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia. Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are charged with the February 2020 shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

Stephen B. Morton | Getty Images

The murder was filmed by Bryan, one of the three accused. But no one was charged in the case until Bryan’s video leaked online two months later, prompting state officials to take the matter back to local authorities.

“The verdict ensures that those who committed this horrific crime will be punished,” Biden said Wednesday.

The president also pledged to continue to advance the cause of racial justice and to “work to ensure that equal justice before the law is not just a phrase set in stone above the court. supreme, but a reality for all Americans “.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is black, also weighed in on the verdicts on Wednesday.

“These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense attorney chose to set a tone that characterized the presence of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young black man with racist tropes, “he added. Harris said in a statement. “The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics.”

Arbery’s murder took place amid an ongoing national reckoning over race, justice, and the police in America. The circumstances of the case reflected many of the injustices that the Black Lives Matter movement has grappled with.

Biden has already commented on Arbery’s case.

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In May of last year, shortly after the graphic video was released, Biden tweeted, “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My thoughts are with his family, who deserve justice and justice. deserve it now. It’s time for a quick, full and transparent investigation into his murder. “

Arbery’s verdict is the second high-profile murder trial to evoke the racial justice movement to be decided last week.

Last Friday, Wisconsin jurors acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of the 2020 fatal shootings against two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse gunned down the two men during a night of violent protests and counter-demonstrations sparked by the shooting of another black man, Jacob Blake, by Kenosha police.

After Rittenhouse’s verdict, Biden said he “would stand by what the jury concluded.”

“The jury system works and we have to respect it,” he said.

In a later statement, Biden acknowledged that Rittenhouse’s verdict “will leave many Americans angry and concerned, including me.”

But he said the country “must recognize that the jury has spoken.”

US President Joe Biden addresses the Tribal Nations Summit from an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, DC on November 15, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

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