All three men responsible for Arbery's death now face life sentences with a possibility of parole after 30 years.
Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, says she is feeling particularly thankful this Thanksgiving after the three men who killed her son were found guilty of his murder. "Today is Thanksgiving and I'm really, really thankful. My family and I are really, really thankful for the verdict we got yesterday," she told Good Morning America in an interview on Thursday. "We finally got justice for Ahmaud." She also shared her gratitude while speaking to CNN following the long-awaited verdict, saying: "This is the second Thanksgiving that my family and I will share without Ahmaud. But this is the first Thanksgiving that we can look at that empty chair and say, 'We finally got justice for you, Ahmaud.'"
Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, says guilty verdicts were "like a dream come true" https://t.co/hPhNTD0kyw— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 25, 2021
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot dead while out for a jog in a mostly-white southern Georgia neighborhood in February 2020. The three men involved in his death—father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr.—were not arrested until May 2020. They later claimed they were trying to conduct a citizen's arrest of Arbery, who was unarmed and on foot, because they believed he might have committed a crime. "The word 'guilty' was a word that I wanted to hear 18 months ago," Cooper-Jones added. "And we finally got that word of guilty. It took us 74 days -- 74 days to get an arrest. And I knew it was my job as Mom to really find out what happened to Ahmaud. I prayed, and God answered my prayers. So I'm just thankful sitting here this morning."
“This is the first Thanksgiving we are saying we got justice for Ahmaud.”— The Associated Press (@AP) November 25, 2021
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones told @AP she is thankful for justice and her son’s legacy. The three men who chased and killed Arbery were convicted of murder Wednesday. https://t.co/gB6U7HmitM
Despite the long and painful road to justice for her son, Cooper-Jones displayed incredible empathy and grace when asked if she had a message for the three men responsible for her son's death. "I would simply tell them that their bad decisions have impacted two families—my family and again their family," she said. "Not only did the McMichaels lose a son, they lost a grandfather and they will be impacted by his grandchild. I lost a son, but they lost three generations there."
A jury handed down a guilty verdict Wednesday for all three white men involved in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. The jurors had been deliberating since Tuesday on the charges against Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr. pic.twitter.com/2YOi4hKPi1— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 24, 2021
On Wednesday, Travis McMichael—the man who fatally shot Arbery—was convicted by a Glynn County jury on all nine charges, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.
His father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor Bryan—who recorded the incident on a cellphone—were convicted of felony murder and other charges. All three men now face a life sentence with a possibility of parole after 30 years. Speaking to CBS News, Cooper-Jones said the guilty verdicts were a "big victory" for her family and that it wouldn't have been possible without the footage of her son's death.
"This is the second Thanksgiving that my family and I will share without Ahmaud," said Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery. "But this is the first Thanksgiving that we can look at that empty chair and say, 'We finally got justice for you, Ahmaud.'" https://t.co/P9xayj73cj— CNN (@CNN) November 25, 2021
"It was like a dream come true... I don't think without that video we would have had any arrests, nevertheless a trial," she said, adding that it was important to keep her son's name alive because they'd gone 74 days without an arrest. "I mean, we went like two weeks without anybody knowing about actually what happened to Ahmaud on that Sunday afternoon," she said. "So from that point on, I knew that we had to keep it in the light of things to get some justice for Ahmaud."
Ahmaud Arbery's parents, joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton and the civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, expressed their gratitude after Wednesday's verdicts.— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 24, 2021
"I never thought this day would come, but God is good," Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said. https://t.co/nLIpseedNV pic.twitter.com/veyBjzEDKY
The 12-member jury, comprised of 11 white people and one Black person, announced the guilty verdict after more than 11 hours of deliberations that spanned across two days. Cooper-Jones, who sat through eight days of intense testimony, said she wasn't that surprised by the verdict. "There's just really no words to really explain all the emotions that I was going through at that time," she said. "I sat there everyday, I heard the state present their evidence. I was very, very confident that they did a very good job of presenting their evidence and I knew that if the jurors took that evidence, went back and deliberated over the evidence that was presented, that we would get justice for Ahmaud -- and we did."
Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones reacts to the guilty verdicts for the 3 men who killed her son. pic.twitter.com/P8T8sukMOL— The Recount (@therecount) November 24, 2021
Cooper-Jones now hopes people will remember her son as a force for change. "Because Ahmaud has impacted changes in Georgia already with the citizen's arrest law," she said, noting that his death sparked meaningful advancements in Georgia law, including the state's first hate crime law and an overhaul of its citizen's arrest law. Such changes, she said, were proof her son "did not lose his life in vain." Cooper-Jones added: "I'm hoping... that before individuals, society, grab shotguns and chase someone who is running down the street and kill them, that they will also think that if they take those extreme actions that they will be held accountable. So maybe that thought will lead them in a better direction."
‘I would like people to think of Ahmaud's name as change because Ahmaud has impacted changes in Georgia already,’ said Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones a day after a jury found three white men guilty of his murder https://t.co/oLhyAoO1Ju pic.twitter.com/jttTse3ZCK— Reuters (@Reuters) November 25, 2021