Washington, D.C., November 24, 2021 - Today, Brady applauds the conviction of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan Jr. for murder in the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery. While today’s verdict shows our justice system can work, the death of Ahamud Arbery, a Black man who was hunted down by white armed men while he was jogging through a neighborhood, shows how our gun policy, racism and vigilante mentality is a lethal combination. No sentencing or penalty can bring Arbery back, but this action is a welcome rebuke of the defense’s argument that any individual can stalk, attack, and ultimately kill another person and then claim self-defense. This verdict in this case is clearly justice being served, but it is also a clear reminder that more must be done to prevent such tragedies in the first place. We must ensure that our nation’s laws enshrine safety and the right not to be shot.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“Today’s verdict is a needed reminder that there are indeed consequences for murder, but this verdict cannot undo the damage done to Ahmaud Arbery or his family, as they cannot bring him back. This trial was a stark reminder of how the intersection of racism and our permissive gun culture threaten the lives and safety of Black Americans every day. Ahmaud Arbery would still be alive today if he were white. The only thing that made a 25-year-old going for a run appear as a threat was the color of his skin. We must use this moment to address how the culture around firearms, namely the belief put forth by the gun lobby that a firearm can be used recklessly, subjectively and with impunity, intersects with the racism manifest in our society. We cannot accept any more tragedies like Ahmaud Arbery’s murder; our history is too full of them already. That the jury in this trial rejected the claim of self-defense is a start, but we cannot rest until our laws clearly protect all Americans from gun violence and enshrine the right to live free from the fear of being shot.”
Brady Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice Kelly Sampson shared:
“This verdict affirms what we know to be true: the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, does not give individuals the right to act as vigilantes, and cannot infringe on an individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. True justice for Ahmaud Arbery would be if he was alive, well, and spending time with his loved ones. But since that cannot be, I am glad that the men responsible for taking his life have been held accountable. Given that systemic racism codes Black people, like Ahmaud Arbery, as inherently threatening, I am glad that the jury resisted that mindset here. Unfortunately, outside of this case there is an organized effort to push for more guns in public spaces, with less regulation — Ahmaud Arbery’s death shows why that is dangerous, for everyone, but especially for Black Americans. We cannot singlehandedly convince those who fear Blackness that we are human, nor should we have to, but what we can do is create common sense regulations that separate racist fears from a trigger. And, in Mr. Arbery’s honor, we will do just that.”
About this Case:
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, went for a jog in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia. Two white men, Greg and Travis McMichael, saw Arbery jogging and pursued him, armed, in an attempt to perform a citizen’s arrest in connection to burglaries in their neighborhood. William “Roddie” Bryan joined in their pursuit and filmed the subsequent encounter on his cell phone, video that was later shared publicly and sparked intense national interest in the case. The McMichaels chased Arbery in their pickup truck for five minutes before blocking his ability to continue his run and forcibly confronting him. Travis McMichael then set upon Arbery, shooting him and ultimately killing him in the confrontation.
The shooting initially attracted local attention, as well as calls from Arbery’s family and local activists for greater attention. After the local district attorney failed to arrest the McMichaels and the publication of the cell phone footage of the attack, widespread outrage resulted in renewed attention and ultimately charges in the case. The McMichaels and Bryan face a combined one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.