Ahmaud Arbery murder: trial laid bare America's faultlines on race

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Verdict caps almost two years of anguish for the Arbery family, marked by allegations of corruption, bias and racism both inside and outside the courtroom As...
As the guilty verdicts were read aloud, one after the other, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, could be seen in the courthouse with tears in her eyes.

The three white men who murdered her son back in February 2020, claiming they had acted in self-defense during an attempted citizen's arrest, expressed little emotion.

Related: 'A long fight': relief across the US as men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery

But the verdict, which holds each of these men responsible for murder, is an indictment not only of their defense in court, described by prosecutors as "completely made up for trial", but elements of the local criminal justice system itself, which could so easily have allowed none of them to stand trial at all.

Speaking on the steps of Glynn county courthouse, Rev Al Sharpton summed up the case neatly. "Let us more than anything thank the mother and father of Ahmaud Arbery," he said. "They lost a son. But their son will go down in history as one that proved that if you hold on, that justice can come.

"Let the word go forth all over the world, that a jury of 11 whites and one Black in the deep south stood up in the courtroom and said that Black lives do matter."

Wednesday's verdict capped almost two years of anguish for the Arbery family, marked by allegations of corruption, bias and racism both inside and outside the courtroom. The family first waited for months as the initial investigation into their son's shooting stalled and was passed around to three separate local district attorneys.

Greg McMichael, a former Glynn county policeman, was a retired investigator for the Brunswick judicial circuit's district attorney office, which was first handed the case. After that district attorney, Jackie Johnson (who was later indicted for allegedly interfering in the investigation and blocking the arrest of Travis McMichael), recused herself. The second district attorney assigned the case, Waycross judicial circuit's George Barnhill, was also forced to…
Oliver Laughland
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