Court ruling: Ahmaud Arbery’s killers were motivated by racial hate

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Lincoln Jones-Hartman, Centerspread Editor

The trial to convict Ahmaud Arbery’s killers of a hate crime has ended. Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan have previously been found guilty of murder, and the court has now ruled that their actions were racially motivated. Nearly two years after Arbery’s death on February 23, 2020, his killers have been fully convicted. This ruling has been anticipated since the killers were convicted of murder in November 2021. 

The McMichaels and Bryan have been found guilty of interference of rights as well as a federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping.The perpetrators followed Arbery through a Georgia neighborhood, stalking him for several blocks before shooting and killing him. The defendants claim they were operating under the suspicion that Arbery was a burglary suspect, though the perpetrators were not affiliated with law enforcement. 

The McMichael’s and Bryan have claimed they were simply trying to exercise vigilante justice, though the court ruled it was not only murder, but a hate crime. The ruling indicates that Arbery was targeted specifically because he was black, and that they did not truly think he was a burglar. Arbery was going for a jog when the “vigilantes” spotted him, followed him, and shot him. 

The case’s jury foreman, Marcus Ransom, spoke to The New York Times. “Just seeing that it was so much hatred that they had, not only for Ahmaud, but to other people of the Black race… It was a lot to take in,” Ransom said. Ransom was the only black juror and on multiple occasions during the deliberations, he cried in the courtroom.

Since the ruling, many civil rights groups as well as Arbery’s family members have celebrated the guilty sentencing, although they don’t see it as a true win. His family is still grieving, and despite their son’s killers being deemed guilty, they still don’t feel they’ve gotten the justice they want. Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, spoke to Associated Press. 

“It hurts me every day,” said Arbery Sr., in reference to his son’s murder. This sentencing is just one step in the closure Arbery’s family and loved ones are searching for.