President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pushed for more social justice work to be done after a jury convicted three men last week in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, saying that the convictions were not enough.
“Gregory McMichael, 65, Travis McMichael, 35 — who are father and son were found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment,” The Daily Wire reported yesterday. “Separately, Travis McMichael was also found guilty of malice murder — a charge his father was found not guilty of. William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52 — a neighbor — was found not guilty on one count of felony murder, but guilty on other counts of felony murder, and also found guilty of aggravated assault and false imprisonment. He was found not guilty of malice murder. Each of the men had pleaded not guilty in court.”
In a statement, Biden said that the killing was “a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country” and that the three men being convicted was “not enough”:
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, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. 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.
While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, 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. 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.
In a separate statement, Harris said that despite the verdict, it was a “fact” that “we still have work to do”:
Today, the jury rendered its verdicts and the three defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. Still, we feel the weight of grief. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive, and nothing can take away the pain that his mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, his father Marcus Arbery, and the entire Arbery family and community feel today. I share in that pain.
These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics.
Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice.