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'Justice, finally justice' | Atlanta reacts to the guilty verdicts in the Ahmaud Arbery case

On Wednesday, there was relief for Ahmaud Arbery's family, as well as for many who followed the case closely.

ATLANTA — It was a calm Atlanta after a 12-person jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan, guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery back in February 2020. Fast forward to today, there's a relief for his family, as well as for many who followed the case closely.

11Alive reporter Paola Suro spoke to people from different cities, backgrounds, and ages. They all felt a similar way.

"I am totally thrilled," said 61-year-old Crystal Pierce. She's a realtor in Atlanta. "Makes me really happy that we honed in as a group of people and really got down to the truth of the situation because it's sad when you can see something happening in front of your eyes and then someone will come and tell you that it’s different from what you see."

Anthony Pierce, who was with Crystal, said this Wednesday's verdict is a form of justice.

"I was elated. It was like ... finally! Justice" said Anthony, who works in car sales.

They both admit that looking back, they were initially nervous with the jury.

"The jury was one Black and everyone else was white," said Anthony. "So I thought it was going to be a bit bias but justice prevailed."

"People thought the jury and the way it was chosen wasn't necessarily fair but it showed something good because it was not as many minorities, but people stood for the truth," Crystal added.

Others like Griff Derryberry who is from the San Francisco Bay Area and flew into Atlanta Wednesday were nervous after seeing that a 12-person jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse last week in Wisconsin.

"I was quite relieved to see that was the case," he said. "Particularly after the Kyle Rittenhouse story."

For Derryberry, who works as a software engineer for Apple, this has also been a time to reflect.

“I’m the most privileged person in the world just by my race – all doors open – that’s just, unfortunately, the way it is and I wish it weren’t that way," he said. "I just want justice for what’s going on so I was really pleased to learn that that had happened. I feel powerless to do things other than trying to vote and try to be allies to people who are less fortunate than myself. I’m just looking for justice wherever I can find it so it was affirming when I read that."

The verdict came with a calm day in Atlanta. But a street poet by the name of "Ticket", says it could've easily gone in a different direction.

"If they had come back not guilty, that would've torn the city up," he said.

Looking forward, the 43-year-old hopes people realize the world is not black and white.

"Forget about the racism," he said. "Start looking at people on the exterior as human beings. Open up the book – read a paragraph read a stance about somebody – give them a chance, give them a shot. But we have to get over that. It’s embarrassing.”

A future of hope, after heartache and disappointment.

“You kind of get tired of having things happen that you can see and not getting the right answers and results," said Crystal.

"Thank God for cameras nowadays," echoed Anthony.