After three men were convicted of murder for the death her son, Ahmaud Arbery's mother said Wednesday that she never thought she'd see the day come.
“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” Wanda Cooper-Jones told a crowd gathered outside the courthouse in Glynn County. “To tell the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But God is good."
Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murder in the February 2020 death of the 25-year-old Black man, who was chased and fatally shot while running through their coastal Georgia neighborhood in an attack that became part of the larger national reckoning on racial injustice.
Cooper-Jones' attorney, Lee Merritt, hailed his client's unflinching fight for justice.
“Eighteen months ago when she learned about the murder of her son, they told her that she would just have to deal with it alone," Merritt said. "They told her that there would be no arrest, that there would be no accountability, that there would be no justice. And she made her son a promise before she laid him in the ground, that his mom would fight for justice for him.”
Of the son she called Quez, Cooper-Jones said, “He will now rest in peace.”
When Travis McMichael was pronounced guilty of murder, Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., let out a “gut-wrenching grunt," his attorney Ben Crump said.
“He could not contain it any further because think about how long he and Wanda have been enduring all the innuendo, all the allegations, all the character assassinations," Crump said.
Arbery's parents fought for him and were “an example of how to deal with tragedy and grief," Crump said, reminding the crowd that even as they celebrated the verdict, Arbery's parents remain devastated by his death.
“Even though this is not a celebration, it is a reflection to acknowledge that the spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob,” Crump said.
Marcus Arbery thanked God, his family and the family's supporters and said he doesn't want to see any other father have to live through what he lived through. But as he reflected on the verdict, he said, “Today is a good day.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton spent some time sitting with Arbery's parents in the courtroom. After a protest over his presence from Bryan's attorney, he called Black pastors to Brunswick last week for a rally outside the courthouse last week.
After the verdict, he noted that “there will be an empty chair at Wanda's table” Thursday.
"Ahmaud will not be at Thanksgiving tomorrow, but she can look at that chair and say to Ahmaud, ‘I fought a good fight,’” Sharpton said, applauding both parents' fight for their son. “Even though it will be a sober and solemn Thanksgiving, you can thank God, who didn’t let your boy down.”