BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The city of Brunswick is focusing on how to move forward and address racial inequalities in the community following the federal sentencing of the three men responsible in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery is being honored by his hometown after sentences for hate crimes against the men who chased and killed him. Dozens of people joined Arbery’s family on a sweltering street corner Tuesday as Brunswick city officials unveiled signs designating a 2.7-mile roadway as Honorary Ahmaud Arbery Street.
While the street name can be a painful reminder, Elijah B. Henderson with A Better Glynn –- a local community activist group -- says it’s another push for Brunswick to better serve communities of color.
“Disproportionately Black and brown folks have been disenfranchised. It’s created a lot of political apathy in the political process,” Henderson said.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael were sentenced to life terms for hate crimes by a federal judge Monday. Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, got 35 years. All three had already received life sentences in a Georgia court for Arbery’s murder.
When asked if the verdict is enough to incite change in the city, “The people have witnessed a lot of change here recently and they got an appetite for it and they’re demanding more and more every day,” Henderson replied.
Brunswick Mayor Cosby Johnson is hopeful for positive change.
“We have also worked to turn that fight into meaningful legislation throughout our state. We have seen our power be shown in the passage of a hate crimes law, which is supported by every Georgia legislator,” Johnson said.
“I think when people say, ‘What’s next?’ It doesn’t capture all the totality of what has been done.”
For Arbery’s family, the court battles aren’t over. The McMichaels and Bryan have appealed their murder convictions, and almost surely will appeal the hate crimes verdicts as well.
Meanwhile, Jackie Johnson, the local district attorney at the time of the killing, has been indicted on state misconduct charges alleging she used her position to protect the McMichaels. Greg McMichael was a retired investigator who worked in Johnson’s office, and prosecutors say they exchanged several phone calls in the weeks after the shooting. Johnson was voted out of office in the fall of 2020. She has denied wrongdoing.