The verdict was a symbolic one, coming just months after all three defendants had been convicted of murder in a Georgia state court and sentenced to life in prison.

Arbery's parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones said they
Arbery's parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones said they "got justice for Ahmaud," but also noted that "there's so many families out there who don't get victories." (AFP Archive)

A US jury has found three men guilty of federal hate crimes for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man who was shot dead while jogging in their Georgia neighbourhood in February 2020.

Travis and Gregory McMichael and their neighbour William Bryan, who are serving life sentences after being found guilty of the murder of Arbery on November, were convicted of violating the civil rights of Arbery on Tuesday.

During the federal hate crimes trial, prosecutors recounted the alleged use by the three men of vulgar racial slurs and history of racism.

Arbery's parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones said they "got justice for Ahmaud," but also noted that "there's so many families out there who don't get victories."

Attorney General Merrick Garland also welcomed the verdict, saying the Justice Department will "use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them."

"No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate-fuelled violence," he said. "No one should fear being attacked or threatened because of what they look like, where they are from, whom they love, or how they worship."

"And no one should fear that if they go out for a run, they will be targeted and killed because of the colour of their skin."

READ MORE: Killers of Ahmaud Arbery in racial case get life sentence

Racial aspects of the murder

The McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery in their pickup trucks on February 23, 2020 as he jogged through their neighbourhood near the town of Brunswick, Georgia. Travis McMichael then shot and killed him.

The McMichaels had reached plea deals last month on the hate crimes charges but a judge rejected the deals after Arbery's relatives objected.

Prosecutors in the state trial of the three men did not dwell on the racial aspects of the murder in making their case. But Justice Department attorneys in the federal trial made it the focus of their arguments.

Prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein recounted some of the racial slurs used by the younger McMichael in text messages to refer to Black people. The epithets included "animals," "subhuman savages" and the offensive N-word.

The elder McMichael was quoted as having said "Blacks are nothing but trouble" while Bryan used a racial epithet to describe a Black man who was dating his daughter.

Travis McMichael, 36, and Gregory McMichael, 66, are serving sentences of life without parole. Bryan, 52, who had a less direct role in the murder and cooperated with investigators, was given life with the possibility of parole.

The racially-charged case added fuel to nationwide protests over police killings of African Americans sparked initially by the murder in May 2020 of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

READ MORE: 'Spirit of Ahmaud defeated lynch mob': Reactions to verdict in Arbery trial

Source: TRTWorld and agencies