Nov 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Why the Ahmaud Arbery verdict matters

Wanda Cooper-Jones (striped scarf), mother of Ahmaud Arbery, toasts with family and friends on St. Simons Island, Ga., after the verdict.
Wanda Cooper-Jones (striped scarf), mother of Ahmaud Arbery, toasts with family and friends on St. Simons Island, Ga., after the verdict. Photo: Lewis Levine/AP

During NBC's live coverage, Paul Butler, a Georgetown Law scholar of race and criminal justice, had this insight on the murder conviction of three white men for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Ga.:

  • The tape that the jurors wanted to hear today is the 911 call to the dispatcher: "What's your emergency?" The answer was: "There's a Black man running down the street." Lester [Holt], there's a lot of historical resonance in those words.
  • There's an American history of racial violence ... and unequal justice under the law. Criminal trials are not instruments of social change, but they can tell us something about social progress. In Georgia in 2021, in one case, one Black victim received equal justice under the law.
A graphic showing verdicts for each count in the trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Graphic: AP

Go deeper: "Politicians, activists react to guilty verdicts in Ahmaud Arbery murder," by Axios' Yacob Reyes and Russell Contreras.

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