Justice was served!
The three men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery on
Feb. 23, 2020, have been sentenced to life in prison. Before reading their sentence, Judge Timothy Walmsley sat for a moment of silence, saying it represented just a fraction of the five minutes defendants William Roddie Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael “hunted down” Arbery as he jogged through a neighborhood in Brunswick.
The McMichaels will both serve life plus 20 years without the possibility of parole. Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after serving 30 years. He will be around 80 years old when eligible.
The system worked!
And hopefully it will work again as these three men get ready to go to trial for federal hate crimes next month. There was a lot of evidence that was never presented to the jury in the murder trial, especially against Travis McMichael, showing that race and racism played a factor in Arbery’s death. A lot of that information will come forward in this trial.
As I mentioned in a previous column, the system also worked for Kyle Rittenhouse, even if you disagreed with the verdict. His defense attorney was able to convince the jury the actions Rittenhouse took were in self-defense as an angry mob chased him down and threatened him with rocks, a gun and a skateboard.
Now we need to seek justice for Chrystul Kizer, a 19-year-old who is facing life in prison for killing a man she claims was her sex trafficker. Kizer is awaiting trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin (yes, same place as the Rittenhouse trial), and spent two years in jail until humanitarian organizations helped pay her $400,000 bond.
Kizer reportedly met her abuser, Randall Volar III, in 2018 when she was just 16. Volar allegedly sexually abused Kizer for more than a year and trafficked her to other men. Kizer reported she was being attacked by Volar and pinned to the floor. She managed to fend off the attack, shot Volar twice in the head and lit his home on fire.
She was a victim of extreme abuse! Volar had been arrested before and charged with crimes against children!
Kizer is a woman of color. Historically, women especially women of color, are punished for defending themselves against abusers, and that’s usually after the systems that are in place to keep them safe fail to do so.
More often than not, women who defend themselves from physical, sexual and mental abuse end up being portrayed as the criminal instead of VICTIMS!
They end up behind bars because they decided to FINALLY stand up for themselves and stop their abusers.
Let’s not forget about Cyntonia Brown, who spent 15 years behind bars for killing the man who picked her up for sex at a Sonic Drive-In in Nashville when she was just 16 years old. The man, Johnny Allen, was 43.
I also hope we continue to seek justice for the many wrongly accused and incarcerated who could be cleared by new and improved DNA testing; that we seek justice for the women who were raped by speeding up the process of getting rape kits analyzed instead of sitting in an evidence closet for 15–20 years!
I hope we stop jumping to conclusions and rushed judgements based on the color of someone’s skin or their ethnicity.
We also need to clean house and ensure that those who wear the uniforms meant to serve and protect don’t have an ulterior agenda or racist platform. Same can be said about judges!
Thankfully, the majority of police officers and judicial servants are above board, but as the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch.
In other words, the system does work, as long as we continue to work on the system to make it better!
Patty Leon is senior editor of the Courier.