Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, celebrated the convictions of the three white men found guilty of her son’s murder.
“I never saw this date back in 2020. I’ve never thought this day would come. But God is good. Everybody, thank you,” Cooper-Jones said outside of Georgia’s Glynn County Courthouse.
“I never thought this day would come, but God is good. Thank you for those who marched, those who prayed, most of us all the ones who prayed … Now Quez — which you know him as Ahmaud, I knew him as Quez, he will now rest in peace,” Cooper-Jones said.
Arbery was shot in February 2020 by defendant Travis McMichael, who was accompanied at the time by the two other defendants, Gregory McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan. He was 25 at the time of his death. All three men claimed self-defense despite footage showing them chasing him down in a vehicle.
Each man was found guilty of nine counts of murder and associated felonies. They are facing a life sentence in prison. The jury deliberated for 11 hours.
Following the verdict, President Joe Biden said that the ruling reflected that the “justice system is doing its job.”
“Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country,” said Biden. “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.”
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton praised Arbery’s parents for their strength and perseverance.
“Tomorrow, for all our joy today, there will be an empty chair at Wanda’s table. Ahmaud will not be at Thanksgiving tomorrow, but she can look at that chair and say to Ahmaud, ‘I fought a good fight and I got you some justice,’ ” Sharpton said.
“We can’t fill that chair for you, Wanda, but we can say that you are a mother of all mothers. You fought for your son and Marcus, you fought for your son,” he added. “Even though it’ll be a somber, a sober and solemn Thanksgiving, you can thank God you didn’t let your boy down.”