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Vice President Kamala Harris said the verdicts in murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery “send an important message” but warned there is still “work to do.”
“Today, the jury rendered its verdicts and the three defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery,” Harris said in a statement Wednesday. “Still, we feel the weight of grief. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive, and nothing can take away the pain that his mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, his father Marcus Arbery, and the entire Arbery family and community feel today. I share in that pain.”
The vice president’s comments come after jurors in Georgia found Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael guilty on in the killing of Arbery Wednesday.
Travis McMichael was found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Greg McMichael was also found guilty on four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. Jurors found him not guilty on charges of malice murder.
The McMichael’s neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, was found guilty of felony murder and aggravated assault.
“These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do,” Harris said. “The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics.”
Harris was not the only prominent Democrat to speak out about Wednesday’s verdict, with Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie Rollins also releasing a statement celebrating the verdict.
“While this verdict does not make Ahmaud Arbery’s loved ones whole again, his killers have been held accountable and healing can begin. No American should be afraid to go for a jog or for a walk in the United States because of the color of their skin.,” the statement read.
The statement went on to say that the “grief that courses through the Black community each time another senseless act of violence is committed is far too familiar,” while declaring that similar victims’ “lives and contributions hold tremendous value and meaning. They should be here.”
“While today we applaud the justice system working for Ahmaud Arbery, we know it has too often failed so many, and so we must continue to act to dismantle systemic racism and ensure equity and accountability for all under the law,” the statement said.
The Congressional Black Caucus echoed a similar sentiment to Harris, with Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., calling the verdict the “correct” one, while Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. called on Congress to fight for criminal justice reform and gun control.
“In the aftermath of this horrific episode, Congress has a moral obligation to make our nation fairer and safer for all Americans,” Horsford said in a statement Wednesday. “There must be accountability for hate, there must be criminal justice reform, and there must be common-sense gun reform.”
President Biden also weighed in on the verdict Wednesday, saying it was a “devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”
“Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished,” Biden said.