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'It gives us hope' | Louisville pastor, past prosecutor react to trial verdict in Ahmaud Arbery murder

They say the conviction of the three Georgia men found guilty of murdering Arbery hits a chord in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nationwide, the verdict in the trial of three Georgia men now found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery sparked sharp reactions, and in many cases relief.

That's including in Louisville, where activists continue to be outspoken in their fight for racial justice.

From outside the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, to inside a prominent church just east of downtown Louisville, there is relief. Senior Pastor F. Bruce Williams at Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Smoketown said you could even say there's celebration.

"It's so obvious to so many of us that that should have been the verdict, but so often it never is," Pastor Williams said. "To hear guilty, guilty, guilty and to hear it over and over again is surprising, unusual, refreshing and hopeful."

Pastor Williams said the conviction of the three men found guilty of murdering Arbery hits a chord in Louisville -- a city that's suffered its own pain, as many in the community continue to question whether true justice will ever be served for Breonna Taylor.

"Years ago, this would not be breaking news," said former Jefferson County prosecutor and now defense attorney Karl Price. "Years ago, prior to George Floyd, prior to Breonna Taylor, this would not be breaking news. More people are understanding what the outcry has been for many, many years."

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We asked Price what this verdict means for us, as a country.

"From what I understand, the jury was mostly or all white, and you come out with a guilty verdict. With the verdicts that we've seen, I think it gives us hope," Price said.

Meanwhile, Pastor Williams, who's joined the protest marches and has been vocal on his calls for systemic change, is slow to call it true progress.

"While many of us believe it's a correct verdict, it is not in the big picture a sign of some radical reform or revolutionary change in the criminal justice system," Pastor Williams said.

Whether Breonna Taylor's case serves as a symbol for holes in the justice system continues to be debated in itself.

But in the case of Arbery, Pastor Williams said this verdict is proof that outcry works.

"A consequence of the pressure put on people and systems to change," Pastor Williams said. "But we've got miles to go before we sleep."

All three men are still also facing federal hate crime charges, claiming their pursuit of Arbery was racially motivated. They're set to stand trial in federal court in February.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at ikimmartin@whas11.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@isaiah_km) and Facebook.

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