Long-Awaited Justice for Ahmaud Arbery

Long-Awaited Justice for Ahmaud Arbery

Izzy Essler, Staff Writer

On February 23rd, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging when he was confronted by Gregory McMichael,65 and his son 35 year old Travis McMichael. The confrontation ended in Ahmaud’s death which was later confirmed to be from two gun-shots to the chest. The case sparked immediate media outrage and soon people across the nation began to call for the arrest of the three young men involved in the homicide. Despite widespread outrage, it took almost two months for the two men to be arrested along with their neighbor, William Bryan who recorded the confrontation.

Last week the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder began. The three men face 9 charges each including murder and aggravated assault. The men have pleaded not guilty on the basis of self defense and their right to make a citizen’s arrest. Prosecutors along with Ahmaud Arbery’s parents claim that the murder took place due to a racial epithet, and his parents state that what happened was a “modern day lynching.” On November 8th, the prosecutors showed police-body camera footage that showed the two men’s behavior minutes after the homicide took place. Prosecution used this video to undermine the defense’s argument that three men were simply trying to detain Mr. Arbery. In the footage Gregory is seen telling Travis that he “had no choice” as the first officer approaches him. The defense argues that Travis McMicheal was an experienced individual when it came to the duty and responsibility of citizens and knew what he was doing when he made a citizen’s arrest. Furthermore the defense closing arguments stated that the McMichaels had every right to make a citizen’s arrest and unfortunately it had a tragic ending.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski  refutes the defense’s argument in her closing argument stating that, “All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions- not facts, not on evidence.” She continues by arguing that they antagonized him and started the situation entirely, and  therefore they cannot claim that they were acting in self-defense. 

On Wednesday, November  24th, 2021, the jury delivered the verdict finding all three men guilty of felony murder and aggravated assault. Travis McMichael, the man who shot Mr. Arbery was found guilty on all nine charges including malice murder. Lawyers for Travis McMichael claim they respect the jury’s decision but do plan on appealing the verdict. All three men face sentences for up to life in prison. The three men are also indicted on charges of kidnapping and federal hate crime that they will go on trial for separately in February.

The outcome of the trial has received praise from both civil rights activists and Mr. Arbery’s family members. Mr Arbery’s mother states, ”I never thought this day would come but God is good.” President Biden also released a statement after the verdict saying,  “Arbery’s death is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”