Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery case ‘not enough’

President Biden on Wednesday said the verdict that found the three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery guilty of multiple counts of murder is not enough, and called for a future of unity.

“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,” Biden said in a statement.

He said his administration “will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.”

The jury found Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, in a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood, guilty of all nine counts brought against him, including malice murder. Gregory McMichael was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

And William “Roddie” Bryan, who recorded the incident, was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

Early last year, Arbery was jogging through the neighborhood when he was chased by the three men and fatally shot by Travis McMichael. 

“Ahmaud Arbery’s killing — witnessed by the world on video — is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country,” Biden said in his statement.

He said that Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his parents.

“Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished,” the president said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Vice President Harris said that she shares in the pain of the Arbery family and community and echoed Biden’s comments about the work still left to be done.

“These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics,” she said. 

“Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice,” she added.

Following the verdict, civil rights attorney Ben Crump in a statement said that the jury’s decision “certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line.”

Earlier this week, the White House wouldn’t speak about the ongoing trial, but said the administration is focused on addressing racial injustice.

“One of the reasons he ran for president, as you’ve all heard him speak about, is to help bring the country together, to help address racial injustice in this country — help do that through whatever role the federal government can play. Doesn’t expect that to be all done in the first year, but we’re going to continue to press forward,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

— Updated at 3:40 p.m.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joyce Beatty Killing of Ahmaud Arbery racial justice
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