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Ahmaud Arbery gets justice

Lynch mob that murdered jogger found guilty on all counts

While people of conscience were still reeling from the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in the vigilante killings of two men in Kenosha, WI, a jury returned with guilty verdicts for three men in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA. Travis & Gregory McMichael and William Bryan were all convicted of a number of murder and conspiracy charges for hunting down Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood.

While there is a temptation to say this decision settles a score, there is much more to be learned when the two trials are contrasted.

For one, McMichael claimed self-defense because Arbery lunged for his shotgun right before he was shot. We know this because Bryan captured that moment on his camera. But unlike the shooting in Kenosha, he also recorded everything that led up to the shooting which explained that Arbery had been cornered at that moment. In Rittenhouse’s case, we don’t know what would have enraged someone to the point they would chase someone with a gun.

For another, Travis McMichael, the man who pulled the trigger, claimed he was trying to effect a citizen's arrest. In closing arguments, you could see his face sink as he realized why the prosecuting attorney was writing down his words during cross-examination. Each phrase he uttered was used to disassemble his defense. But even as she did, one couldn’t help but hear a description of Rittenhouse’s victims: they were witnesses to a felony, they pursued the suspect and tried to disarm him. She would have been a welcome addition to the Rittenhouse prosecuting team.

Likewise, the judges in the two cases could not have comported themselves more differently. While Bruce Schroeder, the judge in the Rittenhouse trial leaned heavily on the scales of justice to favor the shooter, his counterpart in Georgia stayed in his lane. Defense attorneys did their best to derail the proceedings, complaining about Black pastors in the gallery and dehumanizing the victim in their closing, but Judge Timothy Walmsley was having none of it.

We at Michigan United lean on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. at times like these. “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The Rittenhouse verdict was an insult to our values but in the long run, it was a bump in the road that only shows what happens when justice is denied. It should not cause us to forget that Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd and the racist groups that organized the violence in Charlottesville, VA were found liable. Remember, this race is long and we are winning.


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