A Week of Verdicts

By: Umar Hakim-Dey, Katrina Hasan Hamilton, Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, MPAC’s African American Muslim Insight Council

Reflections on Arbery verdict:

As American Muslims, our job is to act on faith and resist the urge of racism and discrimination for “All mankind is from Adam and Eve… Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet ALLAH and answer your deeds.

Happy Thanksgiving is truly in order thanks to Prosecutor Linda Dunikowski and her team, who sought justice on behalf of their deceased client, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, murdered on February 23, 2020, four months before the late George Floyd. Many of us truly breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 as we watched Judge Walmsley read the majority guilty counts for all three men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery. This senseless modern-day lynching highlighted the injustices of our nation, that impact us all.

After writhing from Kyle Rittenhouse’s recent acquittal for murdering two White young men and injuring a third, the humanistic jury that rendered the Arbery verdict reminded us in the words of Dr. King, while “the arc of the moral universe is long…it [does at times] bends toward justice.”

In response to the verdicts, Ahmaud Arbery’s Mother, Ms. Wanda Cooper-Jones stated that “God is Good’’ and that her son will now rest in peace. Ahmaud’s father, Mr. Marcus Arbery acknowledged that “God put us all together to make this happen”. The Reverend Al Sharpton commended the jury for acknowledging that “Black Lives do Matter”.

Public Officials also weighed in, including our Commander-in-Chief President Biden who reminded us that “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.” President Biden’s full statement can be read here.

Ahmaud was a son, a brother and a friend who, and as Vice President Harris eloquently emphasized that in spite of the Defense Team’s attempt to use racist tropes to dehumanize this young Black man who was simply jogging, their justification failed. “Nothing can take away the pain that his [Ahmaud Arbery’s] mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, his father Marcus Arbery, and the entire Arbery family and community feel today. I share in that pain. These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do.”

Yes, we still have much work to do. Recent murders and exonerations of innocent Black men and women within our society and criminal justice system, renders our immediate action and reform. Organizations like MPAC can ensure that youth are increasingly engaged in education, politics and law. WE, African Americans, Muslims, people of humanity need more lawyers, judges, policy makers and more teachers and administrators who will support our youth as they develop and fight for change. Let us continue to put our trust in Allah (SWT) and continue to act through changing policies and laws that ultimately affect all of humanity. This verdict is but one victory, so let’s stand united towards fighting for justice for all of humanity.

— Katrina Hasan Hamilton

Reflections on Rittenhouse verdict:

The outcome of this controversial trial raises long held concerns regarding apparent inequities

in the judicial system. However before delving into those complexities just ponder over a teenager attending a rally of protesters armed with an automatic weapon. The young man not old enough to purchase alcohol, yet able to own and brandish a firearm in public, in what any reasonable individual would deem to be potentially provocative and could lead to dangerous outcomes. Obviously different standards are applied to people based on what seems to be pre-ordained perceptions. The pattern of bias and prejudice seems to be unwavering in favor of leniency when it comes to white males and their actions.

The judiciary, law enforcement and the media are all seemingly complicit in these unending atrocities as they continue to morph throughout our fragile social structure. The right to peaceful assembly is overshadowed by the right to bear arms. Whereas a few decades ago members of the Black Panther party demonstrated their right to bear arms and were vilified and attacked on false premises by law enforcement and a great many lost their lives and freedom under the FBI CointelPro strategy. We need systemic change towards a more just union.

— Abu Qadir Al-Amin, Imam SF Muslim Community Center

Let not today’s decision on Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal sway our work for Justice. This is why solidarity and a collective vision as a community must prevail over an unjust society. This is “The Other America” Martin Luther King Jr spoke of. We are approaching even more challenging times. We have a Holy Speech that says “Establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.” (Quran, 55:9)

We now work to create a lobbying coalition that will support our own moral values. Let this moment motivate lawful Speech and Righteousness; do not let it rest in the hearts of the believer. We stand with the oppressed, marginalized, and ignored.

— Umar Hakim-Dey, MPAC’s African American Muslim Insight Council Chair