GLYNN COUNTY, Ga - Reaction to the guilty verdicts in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial flooded social media minutes after the jury’s decision was announced Wednesday afternoon.
Gregory and Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan were found guilty on most counts in the 2020 death of Arbery.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
"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," President Biden said in a statement. "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," he continued. "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."
"These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. "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 the victim of vigilantism justice that has no place in Georgia," Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted.
"Guilty. Guilty. Guilty," Ben Crump, one of the Arbery family’s attorneys, posted on Twitter. "After nearly two years of pain, suffering and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice."
"Justice has been served. However, there is much to [sic] work to be done," the caucus said in a statement. "The Congressional Black Caucus will continue to champion criminal justice reform and common-sense gun control measures because vigilante justice has no place in our society."
"Nothing can ever assuage the loss of #AhmaudArbery for his parents and loved ones, and the work of local organizers + the Brunswick community should not have been so vital to securing justice," Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor for Georgia in 2018, said.
"As it should be. To Wanda....Ahmaud Arbery's mother..... your son mattered," Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis tweeted. "His life mattered. I pray this brings you a tiny shred of peace. To the jurors.....huge gratitude for doing right. The pendulum of justice swung in the right direction!!!!!!!!"
"A modicum of justice after a horrific act of violence," former CBS News anchor Dan Rather posted.
The jury started its deliberations around noon Tuesday and spent about six hours before adjourning without a verdict at the end of the day in the trial of Gregory and Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan.
The jurors first indicated they wanted to work into the evening, but were dismissed by the judge and told to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Shortly after reconvening Wednesday morning, the jurors requested to see two versions of the video that showed the shooting of Arbery — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times apiece. The jury also listened again the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.
Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death leaked online two months later and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.
Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
FOX 5 Atlanta and The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.