The Children’s Defense Fund President and CEO Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson issued the following statement on the guilty verdict in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery:
The criminal legal system delivered an appropriate verdict by holding three white supremacists accountable for their murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The jury heard through the dog whistle racism of armed vigilante defendants who “feared for their lives” in the presence of an unarmed and outnumbered young Black man dragged into an unprovoked altercation.
But let’s not confuse this guilty verdict with justice. According to our State of America’s Children 2021 report, this same system arrests a young person every 45 seconds in America, exposing them to the criminalization and dehumanization which led to Ahmaud’s death. Justice would root out the insidious racism that labels Ahmaud and other young people “suspicious” for jogging while Black. Justice would deter, rather than embolden, the white supremacy that legitimized the murderers’ behavior. Justice would find Ahmaud passing the potato salad at his family table tomorrow.
Today’s verdict offers a moment to catch our breath on the long run to justice. But it will take more than one court case, or the 2.23 miles we ran together last year, to build the beloved community. After you take a breath, let’s run this race together until no Black mother fears for her child’s life.