After a federal jury found the three men who killed her son guilty of committing suicide based on his race, Ahmaud ArberyThe mother of explains why she is angry with the Department of Justice, even though she is happy with the verdict.
On Tuesday, February 22, Arbery’s three killers were convicted of federal hate crime charges in connection with his death. The jury took less than 24 hours to reach a verdict.
Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan each faced one count of black man civil rights abuse and one count of attempted kidnapping. Both father and son faced an additional firearms charge. Each earl was rooted in his desire to harm a black foreigner because of his race.
At a press conference surrounded by supporters, Wanda Cooper-Jones chastised the DOJ’s earlier decision to offer the McMichaels a deal that would have avoided a trial and allowed them to spend the first part of their sentence in federal custody. .
The family called it to offer to the McMichaels an “unauthorized clandestine agreement” made against the wishes of the family. Bryan, the other defendant, has not filed a case with the two and does not appear to have reached a settlement with federal prosecutors.
The mother said bluntly, “Now I want to address the members of the DOJ. I’m very grateful that you brought these hate crime charges, but on January 31, you extended a plea deal with these three murderers who took my son’s life.
“Marcus [Arbery] and two of Ahmaud’s aunts appeared in court and begged the judge not to accept a plea deal that the DOJ went to the judge and asked him to [consider].”
The family had the opportunity to appear before the judge in January to explain why the three men should not be offered a deal.
The frustrated parent echoed the words of his legal counsel, Ben Crump, who identified Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, as the architect behind the offer to convicted murderers .
Cooper-Jones sued. “While driving to Brunswick this Sunday afternoon, I spoke to Kristen Clarke and lead attorney Tara Lyons, pleading with them not to accept this plea deal. They ignored my cry.
“I begged them,” she recalls. “Lead prosecutor Tara Lyons stood up and asked the judge to ignore the family’s cry. This is not justice for Ahmaud.
According to KIRO 7, prosecutor Tara Lyons argued before the judge that Travis McMichael was not a member of hate groups. She also noted that the crime committed on February 23, 2020 was not planned by the defendant, further stating: “He had made assumptions about Ahmaud Arbery that he would not have made if Ahmaud Arbery had been white. “
Lyons said Travis McMichael believed Arbery was responsible for several of the crimes in the neighborhood and blamed the jogger for a missing gun in his vehicle.
Assistant AG said the white man had these suspicions even though he had no evidence and another white person was already identified as a suspect in the case.
She said: “As evidenced by (Travis McMichael’s) social media posts, (he) had for years … associated black skin with criminality and harbored resentment towards African Americans.”
“Today’s federal agreement, which includes a waiver of any federal appeal, ensures that, regardless of the state’s appeal, (McMichael) will serve his time in prison for the federal charges,” said the prosecutor during the plea hearing.
Despite her initial offer not to go to trial, during her closing arguments on Monday, February 21, she said, “All three defendants told you loud and clear, in their own words, how they feel about African Americans. . His words echoed the statements of the family and their lawyer during the hearing.
Filled with rage, Cooper-Jones claims the family pushed for the lawsuit and that if they hadn’t, the DOJ wouldn’t have done their job. She believes her team’s advocacy made the difference in getting justice.
“What we got today, we wouldn’t have gotten today, had it not been for the fight the family fought on January 31,” she said as the crowd of parents, advocates and of friends broke. “What the DOJ did today, they had to do. They didn’t do it because they wanted to. They were made to do their job today.
The verdict comes a day before the anniversary of Arbery’s death in 2020. Sentencing for all three is pending.
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