BRUNSWICK, Ga. — "Ahmaud can rest in power now." That's what the mother of Ahmaud Arbery said after all three defendants were found guilty on all federal counts Tuesday.
This is the first federal hate crimes conviction in Georgia, and Arbery's parents hope it sets a precedent for violence against people of color in the state.
“I give all glory to God, and we got justice for Ahmaud," said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud's father.
“I knew Ahmaud’s hands were in this from the beginning. The way Ahmaud left here, I knew we would get victory on the state level and in the federal level," Wanda Cooper-Jones said.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, said that justice almost didn't happen. Arbery's parents fought to reject a federal plea deal the prosecution initially offered to Gregory and Travis McMichael. Cooper-Jones said the family wanted all evidence in the case to be made public, including racially-charged text messages, social media posts, and witness testimony.
“They didn’t have a son who was lying in a cold grave, and they still didn’t hear my cry," Cooper-Jones said.
Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud's father, said his son is irreplaceable, and he misses Ahmaud's warm smile every day.
“He loved his family. He called us every day," Arbery said. "If he only had one word to tell you, guess what they was? 'I love you pops. I love you momma.' He always told you that. Now these times you don’t hear that, and I’m struggling with that every day.”
"I have had the most celebratory day at work that you can imagine. It’s been tears but of joy and screams of comfort," Thea Brooks said.
Thea Brooks is Marcus Arbery's sister. She believes her nephew's death serves as an example of speaking up when you see something wrong.
“I honestly pray that this situation altogether is an eye opener for the world that we all are so much better together and that when you see these kinds of injustices happening, don’t be silent," Brooks said.
Brooks hopes the guilty verdicts at both the state and federal level shows the behavior that took her nephew's life won't be tolerated.
“You’ll never heal totally, but there will be some closure now that they won’t get out because Ahmaud didn’t get to go home," Brooks said.
“If they made the driveway decisions that the McMichaels made, they’ll be going to the same place that they’re going. They can make the same decisions, but they’ll face the same consequences,” Cooper-Jones said.
Brooks is organizing a walk through the Satilla Shores neighborhood Wednesday on Georgia's Ahmaud Arbery's Day to honor and remember her nephew. Arbery was fatally shot in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23, 2020.