Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was born on May 8, 1994, he was 25 at the time of death.He was nicknamed “Maud” or “Quez”.

He frequently ran for exercise, including regularly in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood close to the city of Brunswick, Georgia.

Arbery lived in Fancy Bluff, a traditionally black neighborhood across the U.S. Route 17 highway from Satilla Shores, which was around two miles away.

He graduated from Brunswick High School in 2012, where he was a football star.

As a linebacker, he was known for his speed and agility. Among his teachers and friends, he was known for his sense of humor and big heart.

He attended South Georgia Technical College during fall 2012 and spring 2013 to train for a career as an electrician.

He paused his studies to save money by working in his father’s car wash and landscaping business and had plans to re-enroll.

 

Death

To help keep his head clear, he ran, just about every day. Off he’d go, out of the doors of his mother’s house, down the long street toward Fancy Bluff Road. Then would come the right turn onto the two-lane road lined by oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

About a mile and a half into his usual route, Ahmaud Arbery would cross the four lanes of Jekyll Island Causeway into the subdivision of Satilla Shores.

On Feb. 23, , at the age of 25, he ran through Satilla Shores for the final time.

Arbery was shot to death by a father and son who told police they grabbed guns and pursued him in a pickup truck because they believed he was responsible for break-ins in their neighbourhood.

Three men, Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan were charged and found guilty of chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery following his 2020 shooting death in south Georgia, which led to a wave of racial justice protest across the United States.

They were each convicted for murdering Arbery, who was unarmed, after pursuing him in February last year and claiming, without evidence, he had been involved in a spate of burglaries in their neighborhood.

On Wednesday the jury returned unanimous decisions, convicting Travis McMichael, who opened fire on Arbery three times with a pump action shotgun, on all nine counts, including charges of malice and felony murder.

Greg McMichael, who carried a magnum revolver but did not open fire, was convicted on eight of the nine counts including felony murder. Bryan, who pursued Arbery in a separate vehicle and said he was not carrying a firearm, was convicted on six of nine counts, also including the charge of felony murder.

The three men each stood before the judge, Timothy Walmsley, who read the verdicts to the courtroom before remanding the defendants into custody. They all received life in prison with the court deciding whether any are eligible for parole.

The murder, in the neighbourhood of Satilla Shores, was initially overlooked by most national media outlets until video of shooting, filmed by Bryan, was leaked and made public. The case was assigned to three separate local district attorneys, one of whom recommended not bringing charges against the men, before state investigators intervened after release of the footage. Charges were brought almost three months after Arbery was murdered.

Shortly after the verdict, Joe Biden described the murder as “a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country”.

In a written statement he added: “While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.”

The verdict was announced after two weeks of testimony and evidence in the closely watched trial, during which Travis McMichael was the only one of the three men to take the stand. The McMichaels had claimed the shooting was an act of self-defense and that they had attempted to enact a citizen’s arrest, an argument disputed by the prosecution, who said they had no probable cause to detain Arbery, a frequent jogger in the neighborhood.

In the wake of widespread protest after video of the murder emerged, Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, gutted the state’s citizen’s arrest law, which was enacted during the era of slavery, and enacted a new hate crimes law. But the defendants were still able to argue under the old law at trial.