The family and supporters of Ahmaud Arbery expressed gratitude outside the courtroom and online after a jury found three men guilty of his murder.
Shortly after the verdict was read in the Glynn County, Georgia, court, Arbery's parents, lawyers, and prominent supporter Rev. Al Sharpton prayed and gave thanks that the men convicted of chasing down and murdering the 25-year-old black man in February 2020 were held accountable by Wednesday's verdict.
"And let the word go forth all over the world, that jury of 11 whites and one black in the deep South, stood up in the courtroom and said, 'Black lives do matter,'" Sharpton said during a press conference. "We got a lot more battles to fight, but this was an important battle today."
He then led a prayer of thanksgiving.
"God, we come thanking you for your mercy," he said. "We come thanking you for the prosecutors' team, that when it looked to us like they stacked the jury, that you still found a way to open up the minds of people to listen to their evidence and weigh it based on facts, not based on skin color."
Arbery's mother, Wander Cooper-Jones, also expressed her thankfulness for the prosecutors, jury, and advocates who supported the family on their journey.
"It's been a long fight, [and] it's been a hard fight, but God is good ... I never thought this day would come," she said. "[Ahmaud] will now rest in peace."
Shortly after the verdict, politicians and civil rights activists began releasing statements of solidarity with the family and praising the jury's decision.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said Arbery was "the victim of a vigilantism that has no place in Georgia." Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the jury "rejected the vestige of Jim Crow and the assertion of white supremacy that was at the center of this case."
"A jury believed the evidence of their eyes and saw the meanness in the killers' hearts," said Stacey Abrams, former politician-turned-voting rights activist. "May this verdict bring a small measure of peace to Ahmaud Arbery's family and loved ones."
While pleased with the outcome, some said it doesn't go far enough in securing justice.
Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said the verdict "upholds a sense of accountability, but not true justice. True justice looks like a black man not having to worry about being harmed — or killed — while on a jog." MSNBC contributor Joy Reid said the fact there was any uncertainty around the verdict means the justice system still needs work.
"The fact that what surely was an open and shut case could literally have gone either way, and the fact that we had to hold our breath for this outcome shows the work we still need to do to create real and broad confidence in America's system of justice when it comes to race," she said in a tweet.
Judge Timothy Walmsley, who presided over the trial of Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, said sentencing would occur "in the next couple weeks." The three face life in prison.
Original Location: Arbery verdict inspires thankfulness among supporters
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