Ahmaud Arbery's Black neighbors and supporters react to the verdict

5 min read
the anxious throng
BRUNSWICK, Georgia — In the seconds after a "guilty" verdict came down — ending the emotional trial of three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery — assembled outside the Glynn County Courthouse erupted. Strangers embraced, tears flowed and people prayed.

Mostly, however, was a sense of shared relief.

The sheath of impending unrest that hovered over this small coastal town lifted like cloud cover. The specter of an uprising was gone; the hope that justice for Black people can be received was restored — if only momentarily.

"Hallelujah," said Cee Cee Warner, a Brunswick native who said she skipped work in anticipation of a verdict. "We can breathe again. We tried to downplay it, but there was a lot of tension, especially in the Black community. We were scared what could happen with the verdict — the wrong verdict. And that scared me because I think there would have been rioting and everything else. It would have become ugly. Our city could have burned down."

A woman raises a fist as she reacts outside the Glynn County Courthouse after the jury reached a guilty verdict in the trial of William

Instead, Black America in general and Brunswick in particular waited for the verdict.

The nearly all-white jury convicted Travis McMichael of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. His father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan were acquitted of the top charge. All now face up to life in prison.

The three white men tracked Arbery, who was Black, in a pickup truck and gunned him down in the street on February 23, 2020.

The McMichaels toted weapons — the father a handgun; the shooter, Travis McMichael, a shotgun used to blast three shots at close range into Arbery. Bryan followed without a gun, but blocked Arbery's path, leading to the fatal confrontation in a quiet subdivision.

Media from around the world descended upon this nondescript town that has been the center of…
Curtis Bunn
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