Ahmaud's father Marcus Arbery and family attorney Ben Crump talk about trial outcome
NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Marcus Arbery, the father of Ahmaud Arbery, and attorney Ben Crump about the guilty verdicts reached in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
And we are joined now by Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, and family attorney Ben Crump.
Thank you both for being with us today.
BEN CRUMP: Thank you for having us.
MARCUS ARBERY: Yes.
SHAPIRO: I'd like to start with you, Mr. Arbery. What went through your head when you heard the judge say guilty today?
ARBERY: Oh, God. I just - a lot of weight off my chest because what my family went through. You wouldn't imagine what we went through every day fighting, trying to get justice for him with the three white men - they hunt him down and left him in the middle of the street like that, shot him down like he was an animal. You know, it was just something I wouldn't want no father to go through. And going in that courtroom every day and seeing the video where they just shooting him and all that - I wouldn't put that on no man - with kids, with boys. I wouldn't want no man to go through nothing like that. So to hear a guilty verdict, it just was a great day for my family.
SHAPIRO: You shouted long time coming when the verdict was read. And as we know, it took months before the three men were even arrested - only after the video emerged showing what happened. And so what does this mean for you?
ARBERY: Oh, God, it just mean that we still got a long fight to go, but it's - you got to look at it and say, hey, it's time for a change, and it's time for - you know, Black, African American people, we suffered the most. You know, we have suffered the most for not getting the right justice we deserve. You know, it was like it was two laws - one for white America and one for Black America. And that really just really bothered African American for people so long. And there's really no law like that. It's one law for all people.
ARBERY: That's what we fight for every day. We just want to be treated equally. I don't know - I don't care what color you is. You'll be accounted for what you do wrong. You break the law, you pay the penalties like everybody do. That's all we want.
SHAPIRO: Yeah. Ben Crump, I'd like to ask you about that idea of two legal systems, one for Black America and one for white America, because you've spoken a lot about what you see as shortcomings in the U.S. justice system. I mean, just last week in Wisconsin, a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of homicide charges. So how do these convictions today shape your view of the American legal system in this moment?
CRUMP: It gave me hope. The fact that you have the jury of 11 white people and one Black person to look at the evidence and base their verdict on the evidence and not give way to all this dog whistle racial rhetoric about Ahmaud having long legs or dirty toenails and Black pastors not being allowed in the courtroom to offer them prayer and comfort - they looked past all of that, and they looked at Ahmaud as a human being, as an American citizen worthy of all the constitutional promises and guarantees like equality and justice. And so it's a glimmer of hope for us, especially when we think it'll be 10 years since Trayvon Martin come February. And everybody is going to be asking, how far has America come in its quest for equality and justice? Well, today in Brunswick, Ga., that jury made a resounding proclamation that we can be better than this America.
SHAPIRO: You said after the verdict was read, this is not a celebration. It is a reflection. What did you mean by that?
CRUMP: Well, you know, we can't celebrate like we want to because who Marcus and Wanda want back most is Ahmaud to be at their table for Thanksgiving dinner. But they know that won't happen. So this was more of a moment of reflection to acknowledge the progress we've made and to know that we have so much further to go to make sure that we can prevent this from happening in this manner in the future. It was the spirit of Ahmaud that helped defeat that Georgia lynch mob.
SHAPIRO: Marcus Arbery, you talked about how difficult this was for you and your family to endure, and a federal hate crimes trial is scheduled for February. Can you imagine living through another trial experience? How prepared are you for that?
ARBERY: I'm prepared. We already got one conviction, so we can get another one. So that's what it is all about, so we're letting them know that you can't do this. You can't run a man down and lynch him in broad daylight. You can't...
SHAPIRO: And do you think - sorry, please go ahead.
ARBERY: You can't do that. You can't try to justify when you're running a man down and trying to claim self-defense when you were the aggressive one. He was trying to get away from y'all. All you had to do was let him go. If you'd have let him go, Ahmaud would have been here today.
SHAPIRO: Sentencing in this case has not yet been scheduled. What are you hoping to see there?
ARBERY: Hoping to see that they never see daylight again because you got to look at - Ahmaud ain't coming back. Why should they have a chance to be at their table with their kids when Ahmaud - I can't never sit with my boy no more. So they need to be in there the rest of their life.
SHAPIRO: Ben Crump, you represent the families of many Black people who have been killed, many of them by police, and their trials have - some of them ended in victory and some not. What is your message to that community today that you are a part of?
CRUMP: That we have a glimmer of hope based on what we've seen in the last 12 months. We saw the killer of George Floyd found guilty in Minneapolis, Minn. And then today in Brunswick, Ga., we saw the killers of Ahmaud Arbery found guilty. So it is a glimmer of hope. But one thing I want to put on the record - we don't want to have this burden of having videos like in George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery to give Black people who are killed unjustly access to the courts, access to justice because I continue to think about Breonna Taylor, whose death was just as unjustified. But yet her family was denied access to the court and due process, so we celebrate the moment and we reflect on it, but we know we still have work to do.
SHAPIRO: All right. That is civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Marcus Arbery, the father of Ahmaud Arbery.
Thank you both for your time today.
ARBERY: Thank you.
CRUMP: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.