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Faith Leaders, Elected Officials and Celebrities Respond to Guilty Verdicts in Ahmaud Arbery Case

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Kisha Smith

A Brunswick, Georgia jury of eleven whites and one black returned guilty verdicts in the cases of three men— Travis McMicheal, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan — for hunting down and killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who had been jogging through the Satilla Shores area in coastal Georgia. 

The nation had been watching and waiting for the outcome in the trial of the men who had committed what was viewed in the eyes of many as a “modern day lynching”, sparking national outrage and protests. That coupled with the racist dog whistle tactics employed by the defense and the recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse only added to the tension surrounding the case and a national outcry for justice.

The chorus of unanimous verdicts in all but four of the 27 counts, led to an outpouring of reactions from faith leaders, elected officials and celebrities. Here are just some of them.

Al Sharpton: “Let the word go forth all over the world that a jury of 11 white people and one Black person in the Deep South stood up in the courtroom and said that Black lives do matter.”

Kamala Harris: “These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics. Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.”

Stacy Abrams: “A jury believed the evidence of their eyes and saw the meanness in the killers’ hearts. May this verdict bring a small measure of peace to #AhmaudArbery’s family and loved ones.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Thank you, God. Remember him #AhmaudArbery. Sending prayers to the family of #AhmaudArbery. Thank you God for their courage and strength. Honored to stand with them while in GA.

Actress Viola Davis: “As it should be. To Wanda….Ahmaud Arbery’s mother….. your son mattered. His life mattered. I pray this brings you a tiny shred of peace. To the jurors…..huge gratitude for doing right. The pendulum of justice swung in the right direction!!!!!!!”

Pastor K.W. Tulloss (President, Baptist Minister’s Conference): “It’s a beautiful day when justice is given to a family whose child has been tragically taken for unjust reasons.  Anything less than guilty would have been a miscarriage of justice. I’m so happy that an majority white jury —with the exception of one black— got it right and hopefully this sends a message across America that justice has to be equitable to all.”

Pastor Michael J.T. Fisher (Greater Zion Church Family): “This could be the beginning of an awakening within our judicial system that maybe we are moving away from a model that protects the privileged and disrespects the marginalized.”

Pastor Geremy Dixon (Center of Hope LA): “A victory for justice anywhere is hope for justice everywhere. This moment is is much larger than this individual victory. It embodies the long argued notion that people of color also share in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This jury rightly determined that these self appointed vigilantes must be held accountable for the malicious way in which they robbed Mr. Aubury of that right…and to this, we say Amen!”

D.L. Hughley: “Thankful for the verdict! But let’s not forget 3 prosecutors saw that same video and thought #AhmaudArbery’s murder was justified!”

Pastor Eddie Anderson (McCarty Memorial Church): “Today’s decision is accountability for the modern day lynching of Ahmaud Arbery. It is a result of prayers and organizing by families and advocates and gets us one step closer to justice, although justice would be our brother Ahmaud Arbery being with us and black men not fearing for their lives while doing everyday tasks.”

The Democratic National Convention: “While this verdict does not make Ahmaud Arbery’s loved ones whole again, his killers have been held accountable and healing can begin. No American should be afraid to go for a jog or for a walk in the United States because of the color of their skin…

“While today we applaud the justice system working for Ahmaud Arbery, we know it has too often failed so many, and so we must continue to act to dismantle systemic racism and ensure equity and accountability for all under the law.”

And from Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery: “It’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight, but God is good. To tell you the truth I never saw this day in 2020, I did not think this day would come … Thank you for those who marched. Thank you to those who prayed. He [Ahmaud Arbery] will now rest in peace.”


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