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Ahmaud Arbery’s killers convicted of hate crimes

On the two-year anniversary of his death, the three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were tried in U.S. federal court

The three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery while he was out for a run two years ago have been convicted of federal hate crimes. The verdict was handed down on Tuesday, one day before the second anniversary of Arbery’s death.

The then-25-year-old Arbery was stalked, ambushed and shot to death while out for a jog on Feb. 23, 2020, but it wasn’t until Bryan’s cellphone video of the murder emerged two months later that the case gained international attention. The video sparked a public outcry, but charges against the three men were not brought until more than a year later.

The results of this trial came three months after Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr. were found guilty of murder. The three men were already sentenced to life in prison without parole on January 7, but this federal hearing confirmed that they violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was Black. The three men were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels were found guilty of the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

According to CBC, prosecutors revealed dozens of text messages and social media posts from Travis McMichael and Brian in which they used racial slurs and made derogatory comments about Black people. Greg McMichael’s phone was encrypted, so the FBI was unable to access it.

Mural representing Ahmaud Arbery, by Kizmet Gabriel and Francis Pratt. Photo: Warren Wheeler

The facts of the case were not disputed during the federal trial, but the result from Tuesday’s hearing was a powerful statement against racism in America. These were the most significant civil rights charges to be handed down by the current U.S. administration to date.