Biden says Ahmaud Arbery verdicts 'reflect our justice system doing its job' but 'that alone is not enough'




  • In Politics
  • 2021-11-24 20:04:41Z
  • By Business Insider
President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on November 23, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on November 23, 2021.  
  • A Georgia jury found 3 defendants guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery during a jog in February 2020.

  • "While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough," Biden said.

  • Kamala Harris said the defendants's counsel "dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes."

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said a jury finding three men guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery reflects the "justice system doing its job," but that there's still work to be done.

"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," Biden said in a statement. "Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery."

Earlier on Wednesday, a jury in Glynn County, Georgia, found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan guilty of murdering Arbery while he was on a jog through their neighborhood in February 2020. The trio were pursuing Arbery in a pickup truck before Travis McMichael fatally shot him.

All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment

"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," Biden said.

The jury selection process for the case ultimately lasted 2 1/2 weeks and resulted in the selection of 11 white jurors and just one Black juror, even though roughly one-quarter of the county's population is Black, Insider previously reported.

Biden on Wednesday reiterated his administration's commitment to racial equality, saying that he would work to ensure that equal justice under the law is "not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans."

"While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough," he said. "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."

Vice President Kamala Harris also issued a statement, reiterating sympathy for the Arbery family while taking aiming at the defense team in the case.

"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," she said. "The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics."

Earlier this month, Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, stood up in court and told Judge Timothy Walmsley that he didn't want "any more Black pastors," entering the courtroom after Rev. Al Sharpton entered the room to console Arbery's mother.

And on Monday, Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael's lawyers, brought up Arbery's toenails during closing arguments, prompting outrage and accusations of employing racist tropes.

"Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails," Hogue said to the jury.

But Harris in her statement highlighted that "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," she went on to say.

Biden's statement echoes remarks that he gave last week in response to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse - on trial for fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during antiracism protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020.

"I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it," Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday. He later followed that up with a statement where he said he was "angry and concerned" about the verdict.

"I know that we're not going to heal our country's wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law," Biden said in that statement.

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