A drama with a strong racial dimension in an America already upset by the George Floyd case. Ahmad Arbery’s family has called for life imprisonment without parole for three white Americans convicted in November of chasing and then shooting a young African-American runner in February 2020 in the state of Georgia. Justice heard her: on Friday, three men were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Travis McMichael, 35, author of the fatal shooting, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Their neighbor, 52-year-old William Bryan, who was involved in the harassment by filming it, was sentenced to life in prison with the option to apply for parole after 30 years in prison.
Ahmaud Arbery left the house “to go for a run and ended up saving his life by running,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said as he handed down the verdict on Friday in the southeastern coastal city of the state. He explained that the young man was “hunted down and killed because the people in this room made the law themselves.”
“We loved our son and will no longer celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas or his birthday with him,” Marcus Arbery said earlier in front of the judge. “His killers will spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they did, and they should do it behind bars,” he added.
“They are committed to this crime to the end”
The three men “targeted my son because they didn’t want him in their area,” Ahmad Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, assured, demanding “the maximum punishment.” “They are brought to the end in this crime, they must be brought to the end for the consequences,” she said.
“Self-defense always ends badly,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said, noting that the McMichaels showed “neither remorse nor sympathy.” Robert Rubin, Travis McMichael’s attorney, assured that his client “thought he was doing well, even though it turned out he wasn’t.” “He and Greg McMichael thought they were helping their community,” he added before the judge adjourned the hearing for lunch.
The racial aspect of the case was highlighted during the trial, which ended on 24 November. The McMichaels and their neighbor decided to go after Ahmad Arbery “because he was black and was running down the street,” Linda Dunikoski said.
The case that shocked the anti-racist movement
In this state, still deeply marked by racism and segregation, the three men had long enjoyed a certain amount of leniency from the authorities: the local prosecutor’s office, for which Gregory McMichael had long worked, did not conduct any interrogations. .
It took almost three months and the release of the footage of the young African American’s death for the state police to investigate and the three men to be arrested.
The case sparked major anti-racist demonstrations that rocked the country in the summer of 2020 following the death of another African American, George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
On February 23, 2020, a 25-year-old man was jogging in Brunswick, a coastal town in southeast Georgia, when he was followed by three men in their cars. After an argument, Travis McMichael opened fire and killed a runner who was trying to grab his gun. The defendants then claimed that they mistook him for a robber operating in the area.
Travis McMichael claimed to have acted in self-defense, and the three men cited a law passed during the Civil War and repealed after the tragedy, which then allowed ordinary citizens to make arrests. The three convicts did not do away with justice. They have been charged with a racist crime at the federal level and will be tried again from February 7th.