OPINION: Arbery verdict is bittersweet

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(Photo courtesy of the Ahmaud Arbery family)
By Daesha Gear

Ahmaud Arbery’s murder ended with bittersweet justice as the three men responsible for his death were found guilty Nov. 24, but it’s still not enough.

A lot of work needs to be done in this country.

At first, Arbery’s death was unknown to the entire world, which raises concerns.

He was murdered on Feb. 23, 2020, and his killing didn’t receive attention immediately. It was not until the protests and riots for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and others acknowledged Arbery’s murder due to a video that broadcasted his murder began to resurface. 

Because Arbery’s murder visibly started to gain recognition, millions of Americans cried for justice for the lives of so many minorities profiled and wrongfully killed in the most horrific way due to the color of their skin.

Arbery’s murder finally receiving acknowledgment in spring 2020 when Travis and Greg McMichael, accompanied by William “Roddie” Bryan, killed him in February is nothing but unfortunate.

It seemed, at first, that Georgia’s Brunswick Police Department was lackadaisical to the video that captured Arbery’s murder, and that’s an issue.

It took 10 weeks for the Brunswick Police Department to give Arbery’s family and supporters a sense of hope that justice could be considered for another Black victim killed in malice, anger and fear.

What would help deliver that justice for Arbery and his family was the video that showcased his unsettling last moments, fighting for his life. 

The entire nation knows what transpired after. Without Bryan filming Arbery’s altercation with the McMichaels, the world would be oblivious to what actually happened. 

Instead, possibly, the only sources of information available to the public would have been from the McMichaels, Bryan and the media orchestrating a series of events that never occurred — which is a shame.

The fact that we have to rely on Arbery’s murder video to decipher and decide what happened on Feb. 23 exposes how far behind the United States is. Likely, Arbery would not have received justice for his death, and his three assailants would have been acquitted if the crime wasn’t recorded.

If there were no outcry from the country, demanding justice for him and retribution for his killers, Arbery’s death would have been entirely dismissed and swept under the rug.

However, despite clear proof that McMichaels and Bryan were the aggressors during the attack, the defense still managed to portray Arbery as a man who was up to no good. 

Consequently, Arbery’s death was expected for being in a neighborhood he didn’t belong to, according to the defense.

“Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” Laura Hogue, George McMichael’s lawyer, said to jurors. 

Slandering Arbery’s name was nothing but a disrespectful tactic the defense used to blame the victim for his death and claim it as self-defense — another issue prevalent in the United States.

It was not self-defense when the McMichaels and Bryan pursued Arbery in their trucks. They were the aggressor who provoked the attack, not Arbery. Still, the defense continuously downplayed the incriminating video that counterattacked their argument.

And if Bryan did not film Arbery’s death, the defense’s self-defense argument would have sufficed well to acquit all three men.

Arbery receiving justice is bittersweet as it serves as a reminder to Americans and the world that racism and xenophobia is prevalent in the United States, and it’s alarming how much destruction it brings to society.

Four lives were lost, and the brutal death of one of the four is broadcasted to millions worldwide, and for what reason? For jogging as a Black man in America.

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