Opinion | ‘Justice was served’: guilty verdicts in the Ahmaud Arbery case

To the editor:

Re “Three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery”(Live Updates, nytimes.com, November 24):

All three defendants were found guilty of murder in the Ahmaud Arbery trial and risk a sentence of up to life in prison. Many who watched the video and who followed the evidence in the trial might say that this was the only rational and fair verdict. But veteran civil rights observers and those familiar with the history of racial issues, especially in the deep south, know that no case of white people killing a black person is a “slam dunk.”

The claim of justified killing in the name of self-defense has been stretched to the breaking point in this country recently. Just a few days ago, Kyle Rittenhouse used the self-defense objection to win an acquittal. This time, fortunately, the video evidence and the absence of aggression from Mr Arbery were undeniable.

In this case, it seems quite clear that justice was served. But let us not forget that racial prejudice is still endemic in American society and also deeply rooted in our legal system. Yet any case like this helps to eliminate this bias. A country and a judicial system free of racial prejudice is still a dream, but this case represents movement in the morally right direction.

Ken Derow
Swarthmore, Pa.;

To the editor:

As a New Yorker who grew up in the 1970s just outside the cradle of the civil rights movement, Birmingham, Ala., I was overwhelmed with emotion when all three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case were found guilty.

I admit that when the judge first sat a jury in Glynn County, Ga., Consisting of 11 whites and a black person, I felt a sense of deep anxiety and concern that the three men would leave. My negative assumptions were as offensive as they were wrong, and I am very grateful for that.

Cody Lyon
Brooklyn

To the editor:

Re “The GOP fights Covid mandates, then blames Biden when cases arise”(News article, nytimes.com, November 24):

They stole our Thanksgiving. Our taxes helped develop the Covid vaccine, and we are grateful for that. Our taxes made free, universal vaccinations possible, and we are grateful for that too. We are now paying for the unvaccinated, who are being admitted in ever-increasing numbers.

We just learned that my son, who is fully vaccinated, recently attended a business event and tested positive for Covid. He can not join us for Thanksgiving.

As immigrants, our family celebrates Thanksgiving as a typical American rite of passage. In the 1980s, as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I remember celebrating this unique American vacation at the home of a professor who invited foreign students to share turkey, pumpkin pie, football, and the promise of America. Later, my children grew up thanking along with our neighbors, who have invited us to their homes for more than two decades. This year, our table is missing one seat.

I feel cheated, but we will not forget to thank the health professionals who have given tirelessly despite the selfishness of those who refuse to protect themselves and others so that we can all join our families at the table.

Shailendra Ghorpade
Montclair, NJ

To the editor:

Re “Other traditions are fading, but this one has legs“(News article, November 20):

President Biden’s “pardon” of two turkeys, while thousands of people are sitting in federal prisons with far too long drug sentences, cheapens the power of grace that the Constitution confers on the executive.

Instead of pardoning poultry, the executive should review the more than 15,000 pending petitions seeking justice for the wrongfully convicted and shorter sentences for drug offenders.

The annual ritual is inappropriate in this era where too many prisoners spend Thanksgiving behind bars.

Jon Laramore
Indianapolis
The author was a legal adviser to two governors of Indiana and worked on matters of mercy.

Credit…Millennium images / gallery stock

To the editor:

I can not heal my children’s grief, but I can have empathy“, by Miranda Featherstone (Opinion Guest Essay, November 22), addresses a crucial issue that deserves greater attention in families and in our society as a whole.

This is all the more important as we hear every day about more deaths among people as a result of Covid, violence and overdose of drugs in addition to other diseases, accidents and suicides.

We believe that children develop greater attachment to and trust in their caregivers when conversations about death, illness, and loss are based on honesty and empathy. It is only by facing harsh truths that we learn to deal with them; facing each other, they become sources of growth along with the pain.

Children develop resilience and self-belief when they experience shocking events in an ongoing caring and supportive dialogue. They learn that they can recognize and deal with harsh emotions as their relatives’ model, expressing our natural grief reactions.

When they know they will receive the truth in a kind way, children come more to caregivers with their difficult feelings. They become teenagers and young adults who can talk to adults and know their emotions and how to deal with them when dealing with increased autonomy and independent decision-making.

Death is a part of life; we must all face it in the eyes of our loved ones and ourselves at some point in the journey. It is the responsibility of caregivers not to deny what we each inevitably have to come to terms with, and to equip children to understand themselves as they do so.

Elena Lister
Michael Schwartzman
New York
Dr. Lister is a psychiatrist, and Dr. Schwartzman is a psychologist. Together with Lindsey Tate, they are the authors of the forthcoming book “Giving Hope: Conversations With Children About Illness, Death and Loss.”

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