Sydney McCall | Staff Writer
A nearly all-white jury convicted three men of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man killed in Georgia on Feb. 23, 2021, after three men chased and killed him.
The verdict came days after the not-guilty ruling in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 18-year-old who was on trial for the shooting of three Black Lives Matter protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Two of those he shot died, and one was severely injured.
The conviction of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery came as a relief to those who felt betrayed by the justice system after Rittenhouse’s trial. Many felt disbelief that Rittenhouse was given his freedom after killing and endangering those three men. Others thought that the law protected him under the terms of self-defense.
Arbery was out for a jog, unarmed the day he died. The men who killed him believed that he was committing a crime. They said they saw him exiting an unfinished home and immediately chased him in their truck. The men even recorded the incident, which shows Travis McMichael confronting 25-year-old Arbery before shooting him.
The incident is similar to Trayvon Martin who was killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was found innocent.
Zimmerman and the three men who killed Arbery, William Bryan and Travisand George McMichael were not police officers. They claimed to be attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.
The senseless killing of Arbery shows how easy it is for regular citizens to kill people. Americans have too much access to guns. If guns were harder to obtain, many people would still have their lives.
This case also highlights the issue of racial profiling. Those men’s unconscious bias made them believe he was guilty of committing a crime.
In Arbery’s case, the prosecutor used the video of him running away to prove that the shooters were not acting in self-defense. She even highlighted that racial profiling was the basis of his murder by saying the men attacked Arbery because he was “a Black man running down the street,” according to the New York Times.
Many people were surprised by the convictions of Mr. Arbery’s killers due to past acquittals for similar situations. Others believed that the facts were so clear they couldn’t be found innocent.
“I would have been very disappointed if Travis McMichael, George McMichael, and William Bryan were let free because there was so much evidence,” says Monae Fletcher, a second-year biology major at HU. “The videos and the fact that they were not police officers, nor did they have any proof of him doing anything illegal settled it for me.”
So often in the United States, white people are let off the hook after killing Black people. Some examples are the shooters of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
One of the reasons these shooters are found innocent is because of the makeup of the jury. The demographics of the juries that decided the case’s fate were inconsistent with those of the victim. When those on the jury can relate more to the defendant and not the victim, it is easier to believe the victim is innocent.
Arbery’s killers’ conviction was a step forward but did not mean we do not have more work to do within our justice system. New gun laws and more diverse juries are just some of the ways America can prevent cases like Kyle Rittenhouse or Trayvon Martin, just to name a few.