Many celebrities commended the decision, where both McMichaels were given life without parole, saying that justice had been served.
Ava Duvernay, Vivica Fox, and other stars celebrated that justice had been served for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, after Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. were all sentenced to life in prison. Both of the McMichaels were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Many stars took to their social media to express how satisfied they were with the sentencing. George Takei wrote that Ahmaud had received justice “at last.” Vivica A. Fox commented that it was “Awesome news” on a post from The Shade Room, sharing the decision. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay simply shared the details of the sentencing from The Associated Press, while quote-tweeting a photo of Ahmaud. Actor Matt Walton also tweeted about how he felt like the judge had made the right decision.”Justice feels exhilarating. Probably because it seems so rare,” he tweeted.
Justice in Georgia for Ahmaud, at last.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 7, 2022
“Three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced today to life in prison, with a judge denying any chance of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and initiated the deadly pursuit of the 25-year-old Black man.” – @AP https://t.co/L1vIvhXoOc
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 7, 2022
Justice feels exhilarating.
Probably because it seems so rare. #AhmaudArbery
— Matt Walton (@themattwalton) January 7, 2022
While many commended the sentencing, activist Al Sharpton took to his Twitter to explain how much work went into getting the three killers sentenced, and he showed that persistence can lead to accountability. “The life sentences of the 3 convicted murderers of #AhmaudArbery is not justice, it’s accountability,” he wrote. “When NAN got involved last yr supporting the parents & lawyers, the local DA wouldn’t even arrest the killers. Today’s sentencing shows that results come from sustained movements.” NAACP President Derrick Johnson called the sentencing “an encouraging step forward.”
The life sentences of the 3 convicted murderers of #AhmaudArbery is not justice, it’s accountability. When NAN got involved last yr supporting the parents & lawyers, the local DA wouldn’t even arrest the killers. Today’s sentencing shows that results come from sustained movements
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 7, 2022
The justice system did its job today. Ahmaud Arbery was brutally murdered in broad daylight, and we are pleased to see accountability prevail in this case. This is an encouraging step forward.https://t.co/TAybPUEQ8H
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) January 7, 2022
BREAKING: Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael have been sentenced to life, plus 20 years in prison, without the possibility of parole. William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole. https://t.co/gEn2DWlkm6
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 7, 2022
Prior to the sentencing, Judge Timothy Walmsley spoke about how many people were seeking closure through the sentencing, but he explained how difficult it is for those who were affected by the murder to feel closure. “Sentencing does not generally provide closure,” he said. “In this case, I think many people are seeking closure: the mother, the father, the community, and maybe even parts of the nation, but closure is hard to define and is a granular concept.”
Rather than closure, the judge said that the sentencing should show that the three men are being held accountable for the murder. “Instead of closure, it would be best to see today’s proceeding as an exercise in accountability,” he said. “Today, the defendants are being held accountable for their actions, here in superior court.”
Gregory, Travis and Roddie had been found guilty of murdering Ahmaud, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man, in February 2020. Travis had been found guilty on all charges in the jury’s verdict, read on November 24. Gregory was found not guilty on a malice murder charge, but he had been found guilty on other charges. Bryan had been found not guilty on one count of felony murder, an aggravated assault charge, as well as one malice murder charge, but he was found guilty on other charges.
Prior to the sentencing, prosecutors had asked for both McMichaels to receive sentences of life in prison with the possibility of parole, and a life in prison with the possibility of parole sentencing for Bryan, via CNN. The defense had asked for a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for all three of the killers.