In a case that examined the problems of racial violence and vigilantism in America, a court today sentenced Travis McMichael to life in prison for federal hate crimes in the 2020 brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was killed while running through a neighbourhood that was primarily white.
McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, 66, and their next-door neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, were found guilty in February of attempting to abduct Arbery and assaulting him in violation of his civil rights. Later in the day, Gregory McMichael and Bryan are due to receive sentences.
The father of the victim, Marcus Arbery, wanted the judge to sentence the younger McMichael to serve the maximum amount of time possible in state prison on the federal counts during the initial hearing.
The murder of Ahmaud Arbery is one in a string of Black persons in recent years, which has brought racism in the US criminal justice system and law enforcement to light. It also emphasised the bigger problem of gun violence in the US.
The McMichaels were also found guilty of a federal gun offence during the hate crimes trial. The potential sentence for the most serious offence the defendants faced—hate crimes felony—was life in prison.
Former Glynn County policeman Gregory McMichael later worked for the district attorney’s office in the area. Roddie Bryan was employed as a mechanic.
On a February 2020 afternoon, Arbery was running through the green Satilla Shores neighbourhood when the McMichaels made the decision to get their firearms, get in a pickup vehicle, and give chase. Bryan, their next-door neighbour, joined the pursuit in his own pickup truck and grabbed his phone to capture Travis McMichael shooting a shotgun at Arbery from a close distance. Apart from his jogging clothing and sneakers, Arbery had nothing on him.
The McMichaels have stated that they thought Ahmaud Arbery seemed suspicious considering several break-ins in the neighbourhood. Bryan’s attorney said that his client got involved in the chase because he believed the target of the McMichaels’ pursuit had “done something illegal.” There has never been any proof linking Arbery to any Satilla Shore thefts.