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Ahmaud Arbery's mom after hate crimes case: 'We got victory, but some other families don't get that'

Ahmaud Arbery's family said they're choosing to remember his life in the wake of his killers' federal hate crimes trial verdict.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — One day before the two-year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death, his killers were convicted of a hate crime.

The federal trial sought to determine if father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, violated Arbery's civil rights when they chased him down and murdered him on Feb. 23, 2020.

The three men also faced an attempted kidnapping charge. The McMichaels faced additional charges for using and carrying a firearm during a violent crime, with Travis specifically being charged with discharging his weapon. All three defendants were found guilty on all charges.

The verdict comes just over a month after the men were sentenced for a murder conviction in the 25-year-old Black man's 2020 death. Ahmaud's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, called the case a "long, stressful fight."

"Healing? I, as a mom, will never heal," Cooper Jones said.

She, Ahamud's father, Marcus Arbery, Sr. and their attorney Ben Crump gathered outside the Brunswick courthouse after the jury reached the guilty verdict. 

"I'm thanking everybody here that stood by us in this town when my family was going through losing Ahmaud, because Ahmaud was a kid you can't replace," Marcus said.

Throughout this new trial, the prosecution presented evidence seeking to establish a racial animus in the killing of Arbery by the three men. In perhaps the most difficult day of the trial, the viciously racist and at-times violent texts and social media posts of Travis McMichael, along with racist communications by Greg McMichael and Bryan, were presented in court.

The evidence was difficult for Ahmaud's family to digest.

"I brought Amhaud into this world and to hear Ahmaud being categorized as a 'monkey,' as a 'n-word,' being 'trapped like a rat' is painful," Cooper Jones recalled.

Cooper Jones said she's recognizing Feb. 22, 2022 as "Super Tuesday," and is choosing to remember Ahmaud's life and a victory over injustice rather than his death.

"We got victory, but some other families don't get that," she said.

Although she said she's thankful for the trial's outcome, Cooper Jones also criticized the Department of Justice (DOJ) as she stood before the podium outside the courthouse. She previously said she felt betrayed after the DOJ filed documents outlining possible plea agreements with the McMichaels. 

"They ignored my cry. I begged them. Even after the family stood before the judge and asked them -- asked the judge -- to not take this plea deal," she continued. 

The federal judge ended up rejecting the terms of the plea deal in the hate crimes case. Cooper Jones claims Tuesday's outcome wouldn't have been possible without the "fight of the family."

"What the DOJ did today, they were made to do today. It wasn't what they wanted to do. They were made to do their job," she said.

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