Celebs hail verdict in Ahmaud Arbery murder: ‘This is not justice, but accountability’

Tears streak down the cheek of a woman wearing a blue mask.
Tears streak down the cheek of Wanda Cooper-Jones on Wednesday after a jury convicted Travis McMichael of murdering her son, Ahmaud Arbery.
(Stephen B. Morton / Pool / Associated Press)

After a jury in Georgia found three white men guilty Wednesday in the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, celebrities’ reactions on social media reflected relief, sympathy and lingering anger.

Travis McMichael, 35 — who fatally shot the jogger after McMichael, his father and a neighbor chased Arbery down in their pickup trucks, brandishing shotguns — was found guilty on all counts, including the top charge of malice murder.

Gregory McMichael, 65, was found guilty of felony murder, as was William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 52. All three were also convicted on multiple counts including aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.

It took the jury less than two days to find three white men guilty of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in Brunswick, Ga.

“As it should be,” actor Viola Davis tweeted and then addressed Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones. “To Wanda....Ahmaud Arbery’s mother..... your son mattered. His life mattered. I pray this brings you a tiny shred of peace. To the jurors.....huge gratitude for doing right. The pendulum of justice swung in the right direction!!!!!!!!”


“As you digest the guilty verdict of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers remember, this is not justice, but accountability,” tweeted Emmanuel Acho, the former NFL player who wrote “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.” “Justice implies true restoration, which is impossible in this case, but this is accountability which is the first step towards justice.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted, “It’s so gratifying to see justice being served,” while musician Richard Marx tweeted, “Grateful to the McMichael jury who actually found murderers guilty of murder.”

Now that the three men have been convicted in Ahmaud Arbery’s death, sentencing awaits and appeals are almost certain.

Comic Michael Rapaport called the defendants “sick animals” and noted that in the Spectrum News video, he tweeted, “They look so harmless in glasses and suits right?”

“Just a reminder that these men were only arrested after people shared the video of them murdering Ahmaud Arbery, AND THEN more people demanded that just be served,” comic W. Kamau Bell tweeted. “Once again, ACTIVISM WORKS!”

“2nd good court decision in two weeks .. hallelujah. Ahmaud Arbery and Kyle Rittenhouse. KEEP EM COMIN,” tweeted actor Kirstie Alley.

Black Americans are expressing profound relief because their history is full of letting free those who perpetrate injustice against them.

“Justice,” actor Jameela Jamil wrote, following up in a later reply with, “I am just glad these men cannot bring harm to anyone else now. They have to just rot and remember what they did.”

The murder convictions carry a minimum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing in the case has not yet been scheduled.