Ahmaud Arbery‘s family became one of the families who belong to the legions of Black community members who lost a loved one to police. Last year, prior to saying the names of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery’s death at the hands of three white men in a Georgia suburb reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for justice.
It was not a place that any Black family seeks to earn, but is a painful reality of the Black plight in America. On Wednesday the family received news that the three men accused of murdering their son, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan, would also face federal hate crime charges.
“They did the investigation properly and they came out with those indictments. So, my family and I were pleased,” said Ahmaud’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones in an interview with CNN. She said the move signals their family is “one step closer to justice.”
“Today is yet another step in the right direction as we seek justice for Ahmaud Arbery and his grieving family by holding those responsible for his death accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” family attorney Ben Crump said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “This is an important milestone in America’s uphill march toward racial justice, and we applaud the Justice Department for treating this heinous act for what it is — a purely evil, racially motivated hate crime.”
The trio was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia and charged with hate crimes and the attempted kidnapping of Arbery, according to a news release from the Justice Department.
“Travis McMichael, 35; Travis’s father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51, were each charged with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping,” the DOJ statement reads. “Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis’s case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.”
The men were denied bond and await a trail date on state murder charges. Lawyers representing Travis McMichael told the outlet they were “deeply disappointed” with the DOJ’s decision and believe they “bought the false narrative that the media and state prosecutors have promulgated.” A lawyer for Bryan told CNN that he “committed no crime.”
With the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial, many Black families who stand in grief of losing a lost loved one at the hands of police brutality, or in Arbery’s case, white vigilante terror, see some semblance of justice in their future.
“I feel really good because it has been a long time coming for Black people to get justice, and it’s time for them to pay for the stuff they’ve been doing for so many years,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said in an interview with First Coast News after the Chauvin verdict. “That’s the only way this world is going to get better and this world is going to heal, by convicting them like they do us.”