On Wednesday, Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, along with their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. These three White men—acting as vigilantes—hunted Ahmaud down and murdered him as he went for a jog. Greg McMichael’s 911 call revealed the reason for their pursuit, “There’s a Black male running down the street.” This was a lynching. For the many people in this country who are still haunted by thousands of racial terror lynchings, this type of racism toward Black and Brown bodies feels all too familiar.
For Ahmaud, there was justice, but justice was delayed. It was not until video of his murder surfaced, followed by national outrage, that an investigation began. Racialized vigilantism had found a safe haven.
The Connecticut YWCAs—Darien/Norwalk, Greenwich, Hartford Region, and New Britain--recognize the importance of this verdict as it suggests racialized vigilantism can neither endure nor hide from prosecution. But this is one verdict. Historically, our criminal justice system has not offered justice or harm prevention to marginalized groups. We need not look far for examples. Last week, a jury found that Kyle Rittenhouse, a White man, was justified in driving across a state border armed with a rifle and killing two people and injuring another person during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Wednesday’s guilty verdicts and the Rittenhouse acquittal represent a century-long pendulum swing between apparent signs of racial justice and staggering denials of human rights for Black and Brown communities.
We are tired; tired of justice activated by violence against marginalized people that is caught on video; and tired of the emotional upheaval of waiting for verdicts that have too often failed to produce justice. YWCAs across the country have a shared mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The justice we desperately seek exists not just in our courtrooms, but in policies and practices that determine where people live, if people earn a living wage, who has access to high quality healthcare and schools, voting rights, gun laws, and much more.
When race, ethnicity, and gender identity no longer determine the trajectory or quality of a person’s life in this country, we will have met the call of justice. Until then we must commit to building bridges of understanding, stand in solidarity, and fight for justice.