Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan murdered Ahmaud Arbery, an innocent man going for a run, for the crime of being Black in America. Ahmaud, a young man with a loving family and a whole life ahead, spent five full minutes literally running for his life.
Barring a successful appeal, the McMichaels will spend the rest of their lives in jail and Bryan will spend the next 30 years behind bars before being eligible for parole. We should not need to feel *grateful* that the so-called justice system today held these men accountable for this cruel, senseless, unequivocally racist execution. But given that white supremacy remains ingrained in our systems and institutions, we do feel gratitude, to the jury and the judge who clearly saw the heinous racially motivated act of violence – the lynching of a Black person in 2020.
We recognize that there is work to be done regarding incarceration and prison reform, however today’s sentencing clearly took into account that at least one of these murderers felt no remorse. Remorse is a key quality to be effectively rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. These men are the living embodiment of white supremacy; they believe their lives are worth more than the lives of their Black neighbors; they should never again have the opportunity to act on their perverse worldviews.
The sentencing reinforces how all Americans of conscience should think about each other and those who make up our communities. As Judge Walmsley said, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery reminds us that we must see the possibility of evil, even among our neighbors. We must stand up to hate, bigotry, and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, any time it rears its head. Only together can we crush the scourge of hate plaguing our communities and our nation — and end the vigilantism threatening the lives of millions of innocent human beings like Ahmaud.
May Ahmaud’s life and memory be a blessing.