President Biden said Wednesday that the conviction of three men for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery “reflect our justice system doing its job,” but added “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,” the president added in a statement released by the White House. “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.”
A Georgia jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan — all white — guilty on 23 of 27 counts in connection with the murder of Arbery, who was black.
Arbery, 25, was shot and killed in February 2020 after the McMichaels and Bryan chased him in a pickup truck while Arbery was on a run. The men claimed they were attempting to make a citizens’ arrest of Arbery as a suspect in a series of burglaries.
“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, celebrat ing the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery,” Biden said. “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.”
Shortly after Arbery’s death, then-candidate Biden compared the shooting to a lynching, calling it a “grave injustice.”
“By now many of us have seen that harrowing footage of Ahmaud Arbery out on a jog on a beautiful day in February … in Georgia, shot down in cold blood, essentially lynched before our very eyes, 2020-style,” Biden said in May of last year while calling for a transparent investigation.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) tweeted Wednesday that the guilty verdicts provide “a sense of accountability, but not true justice.
“True justice looks like a Black man not having to worry about being harmed—or killed—while on a jog, while sleeping in his bed, while living what should be a very long life,” Warnock added. “Ahmaud should be with us today.”
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement that Arbery “was the victim of a vigilantism that has no place in Georgia.”
“As legal efforts continue to hold accountable all who may be responsible, we hope the Arbery family, the Brunswick community, our state, and those around the nation who have been following his case can now move forward down a path of healing and reconciliation,” he added.
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) whose district includes the area where Arbery was killed and where the trial took place, told Fox News that “I could not be any prouder” of how his constituents dealt with the spotlight and scrutiny surrounding the case.
“Yes, they protested [Arbery’s killing], as they should have,” Carter said. “But you didn’t see destruction. You didn’t see rioting. What you saw was a group focus on making sure that the fundamental right to a trial by a jury of your peers was followed. And I credit the leaders in Glynn County and in Brunswick, the African-American pastors and all of the elected officials for their role in making sure that this happened.”