Today marks one year since Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was pursued and killed by two White men as he jogged through a Georgia neighborhood.
On February 23, 2020, former police officer Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor Roddie Bryan followed Arbery in their vehicles before gunning him down with a shotgun. Police interviewed all three men immediately after Arbery was killed, but they were allowed to walk free. The McMichaels claimed they acted in self-defense while trying to make a citizen’s arrest. They say they believed Arbery was trespassing, but there is no evidence to support that claim.
The public didn’t become aware of Arbery’s death until May 5, when cellphone video footage of the shooting surfaced online. That very next day, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case and arrested the three men involved, charging each of them with murder. Up until that point, Arbery’s family had been demanding justice for Ahmaud. Their cries, however, had been drowned out by the coronavirus pandemic that was starting to wreak havoc across the nation.
“It is important to remind people of the origins, when it all started,” Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach, told The Associated Press. “For a long time, it was like we were yelling into the dark, and nobody was listening.”
Arbery’s death, coupled with the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, sparked national outrage over race-related gun violence. Protestors called for the responsible parties in all cases to be arrested, charged and convicted—including the officers that originally freed the three men involved in Arbery’s death.
Today, the McMichaels remain in custody while awaiting trial. Despite video evidence showing that the men pursued and killed Arbery, they maintain that Arbery was the aggressor who started the confrontation.
Later this evening, Arbery’s family will be honoring the 25-year-old by leading a memorial procession through the street where the McMichaels shot and killed him. The family is asking those who live outside of Brunswick, Georgia to run for 2.23 miles in order to remember Ahmaud as the runner that he was.