Residents believe the Arbery family and Brunswick community can start healing now.
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The guilty verdicts, Wednesday, reverberated around the country. And now the crowds have left the Glynn County courthouse.
However, for the people of Brunswick, the impacts of the last 20 months (since Ahmaud Arbery was killed) will reach into the future. It has been more than 24 hours since the guilty verdict.
Outside the courthouse, the scene was packed. The chants of “Ahmaud Arbery” could be heard from neighborhoods nearby.
Since the verdict, all that is left are lonely barricades sitting in the plaza. It is a scene people in the community are familiar with.
For a moment, seeing the Glynn County courthouse packed with people was becoming the norm. Ashley Dorelus, an activist who traveled to Brunswick from California, showed up at the courthouse the day after. She was present when the verdict came in.
“When I heard ‘guilty’ I was like – nah, I didn’t hear that right,” Dorelus said. “It felt like a twilight zone.”
The Bay Area Filmmaker/Activist shared how she visited: Louisville, Kentucky and Minneapolis, Minnesota. To Dorelus, showing up to Brunswick was her way of being in solidarity with the Arbery family.
Even though there’s been a conviction, Dorelus said the fight for justice is not over. She added how her brief visitation to South Georgia won’t be her last.
“We matter and we can make a change,” Dorelus said.
Brunswick resident, Willetta McGowen, stopped by the courthouse too. To the clergywoman, the sight of the courthouse “shows that something has passed and time for something new to come.”
Since the beginning of the trial. McGowen’s small town has been under a national scope. Since the conviction, the process to mend the emotional wounds in the community have commenced.
“The peace and quiet is really good,” McGowen said. “It’s a good place to sit and reflect right now.”
Upon her reflection; the Brunswick woman said people will show up and support others when something is not right. Her vision for her community will take time. She and several leaders of faith plan on being the catalyst. The plan is to host community dinners with the public, so they can have tough conversations about race. To McGowen, she has a long way to go.
“There’s always something we can bring to the table,” she said.
Most importantly, she wants to be a part of the solution.