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'It’s a new day, and a new time' | Ahmaud Arbery's family says fight for justice goes beyond court

The family hopes the three men convicted in Arbery's murder get more time behind bars during their federal hate crimes trial.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Ahmaud Arbery's family is reflecting on the sentencing of the men convicted in his killing, and they say their fight for justice will move beyond court cases.

The three men charged in the murder of Arbery could get even more time behind bars. Jury selection for their federal hate crimes trial is scheduled to begin next month.

11Alive's Dawn White spoke with Arbery's father and aunt on the next steps for the family. 

“We got justice for Ahmaud, but he’s still not with us," said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud's father.

Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years. Meanwhile, William "Roddie" Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with parole on Friday. A jury found the three white men guilty on most of the 29 charges they faced before Thanksgiving.

Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020. while jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick. Nearly two years later, the pain is still raw for Marcus Arbery.

“I’m proud to be his daddy," Marcus said. "I’m still saddened because I don’t get those phone calls from him no more. It’s still hurtful to me."

Arbery's father said he's thinking about February now when the McMichaels and Bryan are scheduled to go to federal court on hate crime charges. This time race will take center stage in the case -- they're accused of killing Ahmaud because of the color of his skin.

“We’re thinking give them more time. Add it to what they already got, and then we know they’ll definitely never see daylight again," Marcus said.  

Ahmaud Arbery's family believes his death will make an impact not only in Georgia but in the entire nation. 

“I thank God for that judge. He let people know that you will go to jail for the rest of your life when you kill someone because of their race," Marcus said. "This isn’t the 1800s anymore. This is 2022. It’s a new day and a new time, and this world isn’t going to tolerate that. He showed that.”

In court Friday, Judge Timothy Wamsley called Arbery's murder a "tragedy on many levels." Before sentencing the defendants, he offered final remarks he said were key in putting the trial into context.

"He left his home, apparently to go for a run and he ended up running for his life," the judge said.

RELATED: Judge holds moment of silence before sentencing 3 men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery

Arbery's family said the McMichaels and Bryan did more than cut the young man's run short.

“They took his opportunity to run home, they took his opportunity to be a father, they took his opportunity just to start a career and just be someone," Thea Brooks said of her nephew.

Brooks, Marcus Arbery's sister, said she plans to run for city commissioner to continue the family's fight for racial and social equality.

“I do plan to run for office," she said. "2023 is when our next city election is going to be held to help continue to fight for these types of injustices that we face in our communities and to help implement things that will assist in helping so that these kinds of situations don't occur again, in our community."

Her brother, and Arbery's father, said he plans to take a grassroots approach to change.

“Every event that goes on where Blacks are dying on account of their skin color, racial killings, I’m going to try and be involved in that," Marcus said. "To tell you the truth, all lives matter, but African Americans suffer the most with the racial killings.”

Marcus said he remembers his son's big smile and dreams he had for his future. He hopes those unfulfilled dreams can become reality through more change in the country. 

“Anybody who knows him knows he would give you the shirt off his back. If he had a dollar, and you needed the whole dollar, he would give it to you because his heart was bigger than life," Marcus said of his son.

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