Chicagoans react to guilty verdict in murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery

There was enough emotional build-up surrounding the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery that on Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement calling for Chicagoans to express themselves peacefully following the verdict.

She got her wish. There was only one small group out at Federal Plaza, applauding the verdict, amid mixed emotions.

"On one hand, we're dealing with a situation where a Black man is being murdered for running; on the another hand, the Arbery family received justice," said Troy Gaston of Black Lives Matter Chicago.

Representatives of Black Lives Matter Chicago were among those from several organizations who gathered to share thoughts about the verdict.

"I cried," Gaston said about his reaction to the verdict. "I understand that even when we living in America, even when you got the facts, the outcome can be different for a white man in America."

"I think it's a small taste of justice," said Jay Becker with RefuseFascism.Org. "I think that's important."


Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was in court for a good portion of the trial to comfort the Arbery family, also applauded the verdict from Rainbow-Push headquarters, calling it a "flash of light in a dark place."

"I want those that are watching today to know that the jury and judge should all be congratulated for doing their jobs," Jackson said.

But he called the events leading up to the three defendants' arrest a 74-day "cover-up," before charges were brought against Arbery's killers.

"The local activists — after he was murdered — persisted week after week, month after month until that video was leaked, until they finally had to bring in a new prosecutor to bring charges," Becker said. "I hope that they will spend the rest of their life in jail. Ahmaud Arbery does not have that. His time, they took away his life."

Chicago Police and OEMC did say they were monitoring the case in Georgia all day and were prepared to handle protests. That was not necessary, as everything remained calm and quiet.