Feb. 22 (UPI) — All three Georgia men who were convicted of murder in the death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery were again found guilty Tuesday of federal hate crimes, with the jury saying they violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because of his race.
The jury delivered guilty verdicts against father and son Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan.
The verdict came one day before the second anniversary of Arbery’s death. On Feb. 23, 2020, the McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery on a street in Brunswick, Ga., believing he was involved in some local break-ins.
In an emotional briefing with reporters in Washington shortly after the verdict was delivered, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the jury’s decision represented a victory in the fight against hate crimes in the United States.
“No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate-filled violence,” he said while holding back tears. “Throughout our history, and to this day, hate crimes have a singular impact because of the terror and fear they inflict on entire communities.”
Arbery’s parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones, celebrated the verdict alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump after emerging form the Georgia courtroom.
“Tomorrow will be the two-year mark for when their son Ahmaud Arbery was lynched for jogging while Black,” Crump said. “These parents joined a fraternity that no parent wants to be a member of, and with such dignity.”
Travis McMichael argued that he shot Arbery because he believed the jogger was reaching for a gun. Bryan, a neighbor of the McMichaels’, had gotten into his truck and joined in the pursuit.
At the federal trial, prosecutors showed text messages and social posts that showed Travis McMichael and Bryan using racist slurs and negative comments about Black people.
In addition to the civil rights charges, all three men were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping. Additionally, the McMichaels were found guilty of using a firearm in commission of a federal crime.
The men are already serving life prison sentences after they were convicted on state murder charges last year. The federal trial explored the motivations behind the killing.
Prosecutors argued that the three men, who are all White, were motivated by race. Defense attorneys contended that the neighborhood was already on edge because of past burglaries, and that Arbery had previously been seen going in and out of a home that was being built in the area.
Jurors only took a few hours to reach their verdict after receiving the case late on Monday.