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Reactions pour in after guilty verdicts in trial over death of Ahmaud Arbery

Protesters and media gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse where a jury started deliberating the trial of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The jury began deliberating Tuesday after hearing 10 days of testimony. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Protesters and media gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse where a jury started deliberating the trial of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The jury began deliberating Tuesday after hearing 10 days of testimony. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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Georgia political leaders, civil rights organizations, the Glynn County community and others reacted to the guilty verdicts in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial Wednesday afternoon.

The jury found three men guilty of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased and fatally shot while running through their neighborhood.

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before convicting Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, who all face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

Governor Brian Kemp released a statement calling for everyone impacted by the case and those who watched, to “move forward down a path of reconciliation and healing.”

Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams took to Twitter, saying in part, “Nothing can ever assuage the loss of #AhmaudArbery for his parents and loved ones, and the work of local organizers + the Brunswick community should not have been so vital to securing justice.”


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wrote, “I am hopeful this verdict gives Mr. Arbery’s family, and people across America, some level of comfort in knowing that these men are being held accountable for taking the life of an innocent young man.”

“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, told a crowd gathered outside the courthouse in Glynn County. “To tell the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But God is good.”

Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, center right, and Rev. Al Sharpton hold hands after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery were convicted of murder Wednesday in the fatal shooting that became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

U.S. Congressmen Buddy Carter, who represents Georgia’s 1st Congressional district which includes Brunswick, said “justice was served.”

President Joe Biden released the following statement shortly after the verdicts were announced:

“Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country. Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.

While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.”

Attorney Ben Crump said the following in response to the verdict:

“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice. Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul. While today is not one for celebration, it is one for reflection.

This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed…the violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. But yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice. Today certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud. Now is not the time to let them quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.”

The ACLU of Georgia’s Executive Director released a statement saying in part:

“Importantly, this movement led to the repeal of the Citizen’s Arrest law, and we must continue to work for racial equality in the State of Georgia. Glynn County must create an independent Citizen’s Review Board. Black Georgians must have a voice in our state and local governments that fully reflects their share of the population, and we must protect the right to protest without which these men would never have even been arrested.”

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old after seeing him running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick in February 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.

The father and son told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar. But the prosecution argued that the men provoked the fatal confrontation and that there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the neighborhood.

Travis McMichaels’ attorneys said both he and his father feel that they did the right thing, and that they believed the video would help their case. But they also said the McMichaels regret that Arbery got killed.

Defendant Travis McMichael speaks with his attorney Bob Rubin while they wait for the jury to return to the courtroom during the trial of McMichel and his father, Greg McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

“I can tell you honestly, these men are sorry for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery,” attorney Jason Sheffield said. “They are sorry he’s dead. They are sorry for the tragedy that happened because of the choices they made to go out there and try to stop him.”

They planned to appeal.

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said his team was “disappointed with the verdict, but we respect it.” He planned to file new legal motions after Thanksgiving.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley did not immediately schedule a sentencing date, saying that he wanted to give both sides time to prepare.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.