Marcus Arbery, Sr. publicly spoke six words yesterday that we should all be grateful for today. The grieving father addressed a crowd of supporters and media after the verdicts of his son’s murderers came down. All three men on trial were found guilty.
After the trial, the usual suspects gathered to do their best to keep division and strife alive between white and black communities. Professional race-baiters like Al Sharpton were front and center, at the microphone to deliver their remarks. Their words never change because it is to their benefit to keep strife, not hope, alive. For them, the grift is strong. The words that were striking during that press conference came from the parents of Ahmaud Arbery. Both are clearly still grieving the loss of their son but words of grace were found in their remarks.
Mr. Arbery, in particular, delivered a message that everyone needs to hear. He said that all lives matter, not just black ones. Since the rise of Black Lives Matter, it has been verboten to say those words. Anyone daring to utter the words that life matters no matter the color of one’s skin was immediately shut down by BLM supporters. There is no way forward in easing racial tensions in this country if the simple premise that all lives matter isn’t allowed to be said out loud. Putting one group over everyone else is not the way to bring people together. Mr. Arbery’s words did more to find common ground than the words of the others, with the possible exception of Ahmaud’s mother.
“All lives matter, not just blacks. We don’t wanna see nobody go through this…It’s all our problem. So hey, let’s keep fighting, let’s keep doing it, & making this place a better place for all human beings — all human beings. Everybody. Love everybody.”
“All lives matter, not just blacks.” That is the right message.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud’s mother, was interviewed on Good Morning, America this morning. She spoke of her gratitude for the verdicts.
“Today is Thanksgiving and I’m really, really thankful. My family and I are really, really thankful for the verdict we got yesterday,” Wanda Cooper-Jones told ABC News’ Whit Johnson in an interview Thursday on “Good Morning America.”
“We finally got justice for Ahmaud,” she added.
Her attorney, Lee Merritt, mentioned that prosecutors decided to make their case on the “criminal nature” of the crimes, not on the racial element.
“What I appreciated about the prosecution’s strategy was that they said Ahmaud Arbery was a citizen in the United States running on a free road, and that alone entitled him to life.” he said. “Not by virtue of any, you know, protected class that he belongs to. But we all enjoy these rights as citizens of the United States of America.”
As a side note, Merritt is running for Texas Attorney General. His campaign received some publicity from civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump yesterday during his remarks after the trial. Crump has offices in several cities, including Houston. Crump’s message after the verdicts yesterday was more of those delivered as an activist.
An email landed in my inbox from Crump’s press operation:
“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice. Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul. While today is not one for celebration, it is one for reflection. This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed…the violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. But yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice. Today certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud. Now is not the time to let them quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.”
Today some are arguing that Mr. Arbery didn’t say “all lives matter” but that he said “all life matters.” It’s the same message but apparently for those of us interpreting Mr. Arbery’s remarks as helpful, we’re getting it wrong.
Some outlets and reporters have misquoted Marcus Arbery Sr., however, suggesting he used a controversial slogan that is associated with criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Several tweets claiming that Arbery had said “all lives matter” went viral.
What he actually said was “all life matter” as he spoke about not wanting another family to lose a child the way he had lost his son.
“We conquered that lynch mob,” he said outside the Glynn County Courthouse. “We got that lynch mob… letting you know that Black kid’s life don’t matter.
“For real, all life matter, not just Black children. We don’t want to see nobody go through this. I don’t want to see no daddy watch their kid get lynched or shot down like that. So, it’s all our problem. It’s all our problem.
I don’t see a distinction, but so be it. In today’s hyper-divided America, Biden’s America, I’ll take any message that sounds reasonable and true. Biden, as usual, fell short of issuing an inspiring statement after the verdicts came down. It should be noted that his statement was released within an hour of the verdicts being announced. When the verdict was announced in the Rittenhouse case, Biden didn’t immediately release a statement, he was asked about it by the press corps and then issued a statement. He was angry about Rittenhouse’s verdict, pleased with the Arbery case’s verdicts.
Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country. Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.
While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.
Let the politicians and race-baiters do their thing. The rest of us clearly saw that our justice system works. Two juries delivered solid verdicts this week and we can all be thankful for that. Our system isn’t perfect but it’s damn close.