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Op-Ed: The non-victory victory in the Ahmaud Arbery case

I’m as relieved as anyone that the three men who hunted down and shot Ahmaud Arbery without provocation were found guilty of murder, but it’s hard to get too happy.

Ahmaud Arbery Hoodie

Justice was done — but isn’t this what was supposed to happen? We’ve been celebrating these verdicts as a victory, when they should be seen as merely the routine outcome of a trial in which the prosecution had evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. And we’re celebrating this outcome because it’s an exception in a trial in which an accused killer is white — and loudly claiming self-defense — and the victim is Black. That fact is nothing to celebrate either.

Many people, including the victim’s family, see the prosecutor’s success as the fruit of a hard-fought battle to do the right thing legally for Ahmaud Arbery. It is. But it comes too late: Arbery is dead. Critical as the legal win is, it is also an admission that a tragedy like this — the fatal shooting of a Black man by white men who were determined to see him as a threat, and eminently shootable — should never have happened at all.

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