The Daily Beast

How Many Ahmaud Arberys Never Got Justice?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Photos Getty Images

Whenever the racist crimes of violent white offenders come to national light, there is always a period when those of us desiring accountability hold our collective breaths and patiently wait — hoping for the best, but prudently expecting the worst. It’s a learned behavior, the self-protective result of knowing that in place of criminal justice, the U.S. has a system that disproportionately criminalizes Black folks and denies them justice.

Even when there is unequivocal evidence — as with the video documenting how William Bryan, Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael used pickup trucks and shotguns to track and murder Ahmaud Arbery — there is never the guarantee that an institution built to carry out the whims of white supremacy will break with its original design. The relief expressed by so many on Wednesday, when a Georgia jury announced murder convictions for Arbery’s three white murderers, was itself proof that the verdict was as an exception to the longstanding rule.

Which is why it’s so hard to celebrate this decision, a recognizable anomaly that very nearly didn’t happen. After committing murder on a South Georgia road, Arbery’s three white killers remained free for 74 days, a sign of local officials’ utter indifference to the Black life that had been taken—also manifest in the horrific video footage played at the trial showing Arberry covered in blood and struggling to breathe when police arrived at the scene, and did nothing to help him.

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