Kamala Harris praised the jury in Ahmaud Arbery trial for arriving at guilty verdicts despite defense team’s ‘tactics’ like trying to ban Black pastors from courthouse

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting on voting rights at the TCF Center in Detroit, Monday, July 12, 2021. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement Wednesday afternoon on a high profile criminal case.
  • Harris praised the Georgia jury for convicting three defendants involved in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
  • She also referenced the defense trying to ban Black pastors from the courtroom.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the guilty verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery trial was reached despite “tactics” from the defendants’ counsel. 

“The jury rendered its verdicts and the three defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery,” Harris said in a statement Wednesday.

The three defendants faced a total of nine charges each in the fatal shooting of Arbery, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Travis McMichael was the only defendant found guilty on all counts. Gregory McMichael was found guilty on eight of the nine counts, and William Bryan was found guilty on six of the nine counts. 

During the trial, Bryan’s attorney tried to get Rev. Al Sharpton and other Black clergy members banned from the courthouse.

Sharpton entered the courthouse to console Arbery’s parents during the trial. 

The lawyer told Judge Timothy Walmsley that he didn’t want “any more Black pastors,” entering the courtroom, Insider reported.

“The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes,” Harris said Wednesday.

“The jury arrived at the verdict despite these tactics,” she added. 

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed on February 23, 2020, while he was out for a jog in the Georgia neighborhood of Satilla Shores near the city of Brunswick.

Travis McMichael, 35, fired the shot that killed Arbery; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, pursued Arbery in his pickup truck alongside his son; and William Bryan, 52, joined the McMichaels in their pursuit and filmed the encounter, according to Insider

Harris said the guilty verdicts of the McMichaels and Bryan “send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do.” Her comments echoed statements from other political leaders who argued the trial’s outcome didn’t represent “true justice.”

The nation’s first Black vice president and the first woman to hold the job, Harris has been struggling with historically low approval ratings for a VP this early in a presidential term.

She and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff recently returned from a diplomatic trip to France where Harris was tasked with mending the nation’s longest-standing alliance — which has been under stress following a nuclear submarine rift that saw France recall its ambassadors from the US for the first time — meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and other dignitaries.

Last week, Harris briefly took control of presidential duties as President Joe Biden underwent a colonoscopy.