Three white men in America were found guilty on Wednesday of the murder of black runner Ahmaud Arbery, after persecuting him in February 2020 in the southern state of Georgia, a drama that fueled massive anti-racist protests last year.
Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery, his father Gregory and his neighbor William «Roddie» Bryan, who participated in the manhunt, they were all found guilty of murder.
The twelve members of the jury, among which there was only a black man, deliberated for more than 11 hours to reach this unanimous verdict.
Now Travis McMichael, 35, retired police officer Gregory McMichael, 65, and Bryan, 52, They face possible life in prison for the murder of Arbery.
A crowd gathered outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, burst into cheers when the verdict was delivered at the end of the high-profile, month-long trial.
«Say your name: Ahmaud Arbery. Say your name: Ahmaud Arbery,» they chanted.
In the courtroom, a family member screamed with joy when Travis McMichael was convicted.
A video, key
A video of the shooting, in which Arbery was unarmed, was made public almost three months later, scandalizing America, and making Arbery an icon of the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter.
The case added fuel to the 2020 protests in the United States against the racial injustice caused by the murder in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by a white police officer in Minnesota.
Sentence It’s a milestone that shows black lives matterUS civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Wednesday.
«Let the word spread around the world, that a jury of 11 whites and one black, in the Deep South, stood in the courtroom and said: Black lives do matter,» Sharpton said outside the US court. Brunswick.
Arrested after the dissemination of the images, the McMichaels and Bryan have pleaded not guilty.
They claimed to have mistaken the broker for a thief and invoked a Georgia state law authorizing ordinary citizens to make arrests. They also argued legitimate defense, accusing Arbery of having reacted aggressively.
Celebrations in the streets after the verdict. Photo EFE
But prosecutors said they had no justification to try to stop Arbery was never told they were trying to arrest him as he was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in the seaside town of Bunswick on a Sunday afternoon.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said the McMichaels, who were armed with a shotgun and a pistol, and Bryan did not see Arbery commit any crime that day, but «decided to confront him.»
The young man «was trying to escape from these strangers who were yelling at him, threatening to kill him,» Dunikoski said. «And then they killed him.»
During the trial, the jury saw video of the McMichaels chasing Arbery in his truck, and Bryan chasing him in his own vehicle. while filming the scene on his cell phone.
At one point, Arbery attempts to run around the front of McMichaels’ stopped truck.
Travis McMichael, who had gotten out of the vehicle, opens fire with a 12-gauge shotgun. An Arbery is seen wounded fighting McMichael before being killed by another gunshot.
The guilty verdicts in the Georgia trial are known few days after Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal in another case closely followed in the United States.
Rittenhouse, 18, shot dead two men and wounded another during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year that followed the police shooting of a black man.
The adolescent claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges on Friday. Rittenhouse and the three men he shot were white.
Travis and Gregory McMichaels and William Bryan also face federal hate crime charges in a case that will go to trial next year.
United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday praised the conviction of three white Georgia men, while emphasizing that there is «a lot of work» to be done to guarantee racial justice.
«While guilty verdicts reflect that our justice system is doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of shared unity and strength, where no one is afraid of violence for the color of their skin, «he said in a statement.
Source: AFP, AP and EFE