There are times it seems when jurors in the United States have a sense of justice that is often askew with the values of right, resulting in verdicts that ignite racial tensions. It is a nation that is still confronted by inequality, civil rights tensions and the burden of history.
Last week, the verdict returned by Wisconsin jurors in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted in the fatal shooting of a few people at a BLM event. That verdict was met with violence and street protests — as is so often the case when the legal system tries crimes when race itself is on trial and the verdict reflects the innate divisions in American society.
But the latest verdict in a string of racially charged murders does at least restore the sentiment that justice was done as three white men were found guilty of killing a black jogger last year in a Georgia case that became a rallying cry to racial justice protesters.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot in February, 2020 in a confrontation with Travis and Gregory McMichael and their neighbour, William Bryan. They had claimed they acted in self-defence during a citizen’s arrest — accusing Arbery of being responsible for a string of burglaries in their mainly white neighbourhood. He was innocent of those accusations — leading to protests that he was targeted and shot because of the colour of his skin.
The black community claimed that it was a modern-day lynching, where the only crime is being black and being in a white area. That such thinking continues shows the depth of racial tensions that are still raw in America. Georgia, like other southern states, has a long history of racial tensions.
On Wednesday evening, a mainly white jury returned their verdict, sending a palpable sense of relief that justice has finally been done. Nothing in these cases can be taken for granted, particularly in the gaze of media outlets that view news through their own biased lenses, or lawyers who distort facts to appeal to the basest sentiments of jurors. In this instance they did not prevail.
As a beacon of freedom, it is only befitting that America has a justice system that is free and fair for all and one with zero racial bias. And the Arbery trial holds out hope.