Ahmaud Arbery’s killers have been charged with committing a hate crime nearly two years after his death

Story by Eliana Merck, Editor in Chief

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, the three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, have all been charged with interferring with Arbery’s rights (a hate crime) and attempted kidnapping.

On February 23, 2020,  Arbery was jogging in a residential area in Brunswick, Georgia. The McMichaels saw Arbery, grabbed their guns, went into their pickup truck, and pursued him. Bryan, their neighbor, joined them in their pursuit in his own truck and recorded the incident on his phone. Travis McMichael then shot and killed Arbery. All three men have already been serving life in prison for this crime since last year.

This year’s charges of hate-crimes were backed by a variety of messages and social media posts Travis McMichael and Bryan had on their phones. They had both used racial slurs and made derogatory remarks aimed towards black individuals, privately and publicly. For example in 2018, Travis McMichael commented on a video of a black man pranking a white man, saying, “I’d kill that f***ing n****r.” In addition, a woman who had worked under Travis McMichael in the U.S. Coast Guard reported that he referred to her as a “n****r lover” after being informed that she had dated a black man. 

Arbery’s life should have never been taken in the first place, especially for the reason it was taken. Black individuals have been purposefully targeted for the color of their skin and racially profiled by white people for the vast majority of history. The list of souls that have been taken by racist individuals is countless, and it keeps growing even in the present day. Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Elijah McClain are all fairly recent examples of black victims who have yet to receive justice. In one way or another, the justice system has failed all of them, doing anything ranging from not arresting their killers to not charging their killers with a racially-motivated hate crime. 

The justice system waited nearly two years to deliver justice to Ahmaud Arbery and his family, and it took the consistent support and protests of activists for them to take action. The justice system should not need the push of the public to properly do its job of trying to right wrongs.

But, did Ahmaud Arbery truly receive justice? Some may describe this trial as Arbery finally getting justice, but others disagree. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, stated after the trial, “We as a family will never get victory because Ahamud is gone forever.” 

Arbery’s life mattered as much as anyone else’s, and he should still be alive today.