New York, NY, January 7, 2022 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today welcomed the sentencing of the three men responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder to life in prison, saying the judgment sends a message that there will be serious consequences for acts of hate-motivated violence.
Georgia Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced the three men found guilty in the death of Arbery to life in prison. Travis McMichael, who killed Mr. Arbery with two shotgun blasts was sentenced to life without parole plus twenty years; Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael’s father and a former police officer and investigator with the local district attorney’s office was sentenced to life without parole plus twenty years; William “Roddie” Bryan, the McMichael’s neighbor, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
“Today’s sentence cannot erase the grave injustice Ahmaud Arbery suffered, but it is a meaningful step forward and sends a powerful message that perpetrators of racial and hate-fueled violence will face consequences for their actions,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “We await further accountability being sought by the U.S. Department of Justice as Mr. Arbery’s killers are set to stand trial for federal hate crime, attempting kidnapping and other charges next month.”
“This sentence marks an important milestone in the effort to ensure accountability, closure, and healing for Mr. Arbery’s family and the community, stated Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL Southern Division Vice President, based in Georgia. “These killers, who took the life of an innocent man, were fueled by hate — and with his action today the judge has appropriately recognized the major and detrimental impact of hatred on our communities.”
Mr. Arbery’s Impact on the Passage of Georgia’s Hate Crime Law: The passage of the HB 426, known as the Georgia Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes Act, came in June 2020 after the bill had been stalled for years, gaining bipartisan support from lawmakers in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, applauded the legislation’s passage, stating, “My family thanks everyone for not letting my son's death be in vain. I know he is still with us and this law is evidence of that and I look forward to being present when it is signed.”
For more than a decade, ADL founded and led a coalition of over thirty-five advocacy groups known as Hate Free Georgia to advocate for a state hate crime law. Before HB 426’s passage, Georgia was one of only five in the nation without a hate crime law.
ADL’s Long History of Addressing Hate Crimes: In 1981, ADL crafted the first model hate crime legislation in America, and forty-six states plus the District of Columbia now have laws based on or similar to ADL’s model. The organization also led the large coalition of organizations that ultimately spearheaded the passage of the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, the most comprehensive federal hate crimes law.