WASHINGTON (November 29, 2021) — The Black Public Defender Association Executive Director & Board Chair Heather Pinckney issued the following statement in response to the conviction of William Bryan and Travis and Gregory McMichaels in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery:
Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery. We hope the verdict brings them some peace and starts the beginning of some form of closure.
Like most of America, Black Defenders spent the entire trial wondering if yet again, the system would find a way to devalue the loss of another Black man’s life. Most waited nervously, questioning if this jury would see how tragic, unnecessary and unwarranted his murder was. As the guilty verdict was announced and many breathed a small sigh of relief, most people who truly know this system again remembered that this conviction would still not produce justice or systemic change.
In order to stop the hateful and unnecessary killing of Black people, we must continue to root out those that are vested in white supremacy. The actions of the convicted murderers on that day were a continued manifestation of decades of racist ways that continue to bleed into everyday society. These men felt emboldened, justified and protected in their actions because segments of society encourage and relish in the killing of Black people for doing anything that doesn’t fit into their definition of “following the rules”.
To gain true justice and save Black lives, we must continue to acknowledge the evil that lives among us and fight to destroy the policies that allow individuals like those convicted to engage in racist, government-supported and sanctioned actions, like citizens arrest. Only by fighting to dismantle carceral systems and ending generations of racist laws and policies that target and harm Black communities, can we ever reach true justice for all.
The Black Public Defender Association aims to improve the quality of defense provided to low-income communities across the United States by creating and maintaining a national network of skilled Black public defenders that identify with and are committed to the populations they serve.