- Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while on a jog outside Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23.
- Friday would have been his 26th birthday, and friends, family members, and supporters are running 2.23 miles to honour Arbery and the day that he died.
- Arbery was shot by a former police officer and his adult son, identified as Gregory McMichael and Travis Michael, respectively.
- The McMichaels told police they believed Arbery might have been a suspect in a recent string of robberies, according to a Glynn County Police report.
- The McMichaels were arrested on Thursday night after public outrage over Arbery’s death spread across social media.
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Friends and family of Ahmaud Arbery are running 2.23 miles on Friday to honour the avid runner, who was shot dead while on a jog in Georgia in February.
Arbery would have turned 26 on May 8. But on February 23, he was gunned down just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, by a former police officer and his adult son, identified as Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, respectively. They believed Arbery looked like a suspect in a recent string of robberies, according to a Glynn County Police report seen by CNN.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, has not watched the video, but she told CBS News that her son was “just out for his daily jog” when he was killed.
She told First Coast News, a local broadcast outlet, that her son played football at Brunswick High School, and graduated in 2012. He then attended South Georgia Technical College and was working to be an electrician.
Cooper-Jones described Arbery as well-mannered, kind, and humble in an interview with “Good Morning America.”
“Ahmaud didn’t deserve to go the way that he went,” she said.
Arbery ‘had pride in everything he did’
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said that his son was an aspiring boxer. He liked to stay fit and was known for his daily jogs.
“He took his body very seriously, always ran and had pride in everything he did,” Marcus Arbery told ABC News. “It cuts me deeply how his life was taken. I would have preferred them to come and take my life instead.”
Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach, told CNN that he saw a 2.23-mile run as a way to honour Arbery.
Vaughn organised the run virtually – telling supporters to run wherever they are, in part because the novel coronavirus pandemic is keeping people apart, but also because running is what Arbery loved to do.
“With COVID-19, of course, we can’t have a demonstration where we all come together,” Vaughn told CNN, adding that the last time he saw Arbery was on a run. “Any runner can identify with Maud, a guy who may have had a bad day, but he can go out there and hit the pavement and go jog.”
A Facebook page called “I run with Maud” was also created in recent weeks, and supporters are sharing news stories about the incident as well as photos of Arbery.
Georgia’s NAACP called Arbery’s death a ‘modern-day lynching’
Video of the attack emerged on Tuesday, posted on Twitter by the activist Shaun King. In the clip, Arbery can be seen jogging in broad daylight. As he approaches a parked, white pick-up truck, two men get out of the vehicle. The video then shows the runner and another man grappling over what appears to be a shotgun, as gunshots ring out. The runner punches the man before a third shot is fired, and the runner falls.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced in a statement on Thursday night that Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, had been arrested, after months of public outrage from Ahmaud’s supporters.
Both men have been charged with murder and aggravated assault, and the statement says it was Travis McMichael who shot Arbery.
Glynn County Sheriff E Neal Jump said during a protest earlier this week that he was “upset” by how long it took for charges to be brought.
James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, called Arbery’s death a “modern-day lynching.”
“While we acknowledge District Attorney Tom Durden’s intentions to convene a grand jury to bring charges against the men who gunned down Ahmaud Arbery, we recognise that we have a long way to go until we reach justice,” Woodall said in a statement.
Celebrities and civil rights groups have voiced support for Arbery
As the video spread across the internet, celebrities voiced support for Arbery and his family.
NBA star LeBron James said on Twitter: “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! I’m sorry Ahmaud (Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the….. heavens above to your family!!”
Sen. Kamala Harris said the video “sickens me to my core.”
“Exercising while Black shouldn’t be a death sentence,” she said.
Ahmaud was only 25-years-old before his life was taken. No words or actions can ever ease the pain his family is feeling right now but they deserve swift justice. #JusticeForAhmaud pic.twitter.com/p8aUxM5ap3
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 6, 2020
Along with the NAACP, civil rights groups, including the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Centre, have expressed concern over the handling of Arbery’s death.
“We call on the officials in Brunswick to enforce the rule of law so that it can be safe for citizens to walk the streets,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement to USA Today, before the McMichaels were charged. “Ahmaud was killed three days before the anniversary of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. Both incidents are a reminder that white supremacy has been a foundation for our country and leads repeatedly to the targeting and harming people of colour, particularly African Americans.”
- Read more:
- LeBron James enraged by the shooting death of an unarmed 25-year-old black man in southern Georgia, says: ‘We’re literally hunted everyday’
- Joe Biden calls for a ‘swift, full, and transparent investigation’ of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery after footage of the incident emerges
- Indianapolis police fatally shot a black man after a high-speed chase. Just after the shooting someone can be heard mocking the man in Facebook Live footage.
- A Maryland police department charged one of its officers with murder after he allegedly shot a handcuffed man 7 times