The palindromic Twosday (22/22) was not good news day for Greg and Travis McMichael nor for William “Roddie” Bryan. All three white men, convicted of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man two years ago, were found guilty of federal hate crimes and other lesser charges.
Not only did the jury find them guilty of violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black, they were also guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels guilty of the use of a firearm while committing the crime.
Critical to their conviction were the number of text messages and social media posts in which Travis and Bryan used racist slurs and other derogatory comments about Black people. More evidence against Greg McMichael was not obtainable since his phone was encrypted.
Back in February 2020, Arbery was jogging through the mostly white neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia when he was pursued in a pickup truck by the McMichaels. They were subsequently joined by Bryan in his pickup truck whose recorded video captured the entire incident.
During the federal trial, the defense attorneys argued that their clients were not motivated by race but merely chased Arbery because they thought he had committed a crime.
On Monday, a jury of eight white people, three Black people, and one Hispanic received the case after a weeklong trial in U.S. District Court.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has stood with the Arbery family since the beginning of the crime, said that “Ahmaud Arbery was lynched.” After the verdict was delivered, he noted that it was two years since Arbery “was stalked, trapped, and murdered in cold blood as he jogged through his Brunswick neighborhood. And today, after much sorrow, grief and pain, Ahmaud’s family can finally put this chapter behind them.” He emphasized how the family has endured his murder and then being demonized in the court.
Several witnesses during the trial testified they heard the McMichaels’ racist statements firsthand. One woman who served under Travis McMichael in the U.S. Coast Guard 10 years ago said he called her “n____r lover,” after she had dated a Black man. Another woman testified the elder McMichael had ranted angrily in 2015 when she remarked on the death of civil rights leader Julian Bond, saying “All those Blacks are nothing but trouble.”
“Ahmaud Arbery was denied the opportunity to define his own legacy,” Crump declared, “but America, we have the power to ensure that it is one that propels our fight for equal justice and dispels hate from this world. That is how we continue to honor Ahmaud and make sure his death was not in vain.”