For Immediate Release: November 24, 2021
COLOR OF CHANGE: VERDICT IN MCMICHAEL, BRYAN TRIAL IS A STEP TOWARDS ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT JUSTICE
Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change, issued the following statement after today’s verdict:
“Today marks the first step toward accountability for Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan, after their atrocious acts of violence. We hope that today’s conviction provides some measure of comfort to Ahmaud Arbery’s family.
Make no mistake: Arbery’s murder was a blatant act of hatred and white supremacy. Unlike thousands of Black people who are forced into plea bargains, these three white men were emboldened by a racist system to arm themselves, pursue Arbery, and shoot him in cold blood because they know that the court system is stacked in their favor.
Throughout this trial, we saw just how deep systemic racism is embedded in our legal system. From the defense’s reprehensible argument for why this case needed a majority-white jury to the use of Georgia’s citizens' arrest law to justify Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, it was clear from the start that this trial was a brazen attempt to legitimize vigilante violence. The defense even reverted to racist tropes and stereotypes to blame Arbery for his own murder because they knew it would resonate with the all-white jury.
While this is a first step towards accountability, we know that one guilty verdict is an exception to the rules of a broken justice system that has long legitimized murdering Black people. While some may be shocked by the brazenness of these three men, Arbery’s murder was not an isolated incident. Instead, it was the result of rhetoric and enablement by politicians, police departments, mainstream media, and social media platforms. These vigilantes are empowered to uphold racist practices and white supremacist values and are defended by judges, prosecutors and the whole legal system that time and time again has allowed them to kill Black people with no consequence.
We call on everyone who stands in support of Black lives to join our movement to hold prosecutors accountable and demand transparency from their offices, and help elect progressive prosecutors who are committed to reform and ending the cycle of mass incarceration. Until there is real accountability and the systems that perpetuate this kind of violence are dismantled, Black communities will continue to be terrorized.
Today’s outcome is about accountability — not justice. A just system would have never allowed Ahmaud Arbery to be killed by vigilantes in the first place. We must continue to uproot the structural racism woven into our laws and embedded in our institutions and continue the fight for racial justice. This is the only way to prevent unconscionable crimes against Black people.”