Memorials, lawsuit mark death anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery

Evon Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery's aunt, left, is comforted by family during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for her nephew at the Satilla Shores development, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year while while running in a neighborhood outside the port city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Evon Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery's aunt, left, is comforted by family during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for her nephew at the Satilla Shores development, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year while while running in a neighborhood outside the port city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery are marking the anniversary of his slaying in Georgia

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Family and friends walked in procession through the coastal subdivision where armed men chased and shot him in the street. Others joined his mother for a vigil at the rural church where he's buried. Lawmakers paused to remember him at the Georgia state Capitol, and President Joe Biden offered thoughts on the slaying one year ago of Ahmaud Arbery.

When the 25-year-old was killed on Feb. 23, 2020, few outside this Georgia port city paid much attention at first. As three men await trial for murder, those closest to Arbery sought to make sure his death isn't overlooked again.

“He isn't going to rest in his grave until we get justice,” Marcus Arbery, Arbery's father, said Tuesday evening as he and other family members led a group of about 100 supporters on a memorial march into the Satilla Shores subdivision.

That's where Arbery died bleeding in the street from three close-range shotgun blasts after a white father and son armed themselves and pursued him in a pickup truck upon spotting the young Black man running in their neighborhood.

In rural Waynesboro, Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, knelt by her son's grave outside New Springfield Baptist Church ahead of a candlelight vigil with family and supporters wearing masks and blue ribbons, a nod to Arbery's favorite color.

"I wouldn't say that I've healed much," Cooper-Jones told WRDW-TV before the vigil. "I've learned to take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour."

Hours earlier, Cooper-Jones filed a civil lawsuit accusing the men charged in her son’s death and local authorities who first responded to the shooting of violating his civil rights. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court seeks $1 million. Attorneys for the men charged with killing Arbery say they suspected he was a burglar and they committed no crimes.

At the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta, Democratic lawmakers joined civil rights activists to mark the anniversary, which also got a mention from the White House.

“A Black man should be able to go for a jog without fearing for his life,” Biden tweeted Tuesday. “Today, we remember Ahmaud Arbery’s life and we dedicate ourselves to making this country safer for people of color.”

Immediately after the shooting, police interviewed the men who chased Arbery down, and let them walk free. The first prosecutor assigned to the case saw no reason to bring charges. Pleas for justice by Arbery's family went largely unheard as Georgia and the nation entered lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic.

“For a long time, it was like we were yelling into the dark, and nobody was listening,” said Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach and an organizer of the Brunswick event.

Arbery had been dead for more than two months when a cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online May 5 and a national outcry erupted. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case the next day and swiftly arrested the shooter, Travis McMichael; his father, Greg McMichael; and neighbor Roddie Bryan on murder charges.

Outrage over Arbery's slaying still simmered when a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd on May 25, igniting protests across the U.S. denouncing racial injustice.

In Brunswick, the death of Arbery served as a wake-up call to many residents, both Black and white, that they need to be more active in holding elected officials accountable, said the Rev. John Perry. He served as president of the Brunswick NAACP chapter at the time of the killing. Now he's running to be the city's next mayor.

“Previously, we elected people into office and just trusted that they would do the right thing,” Perry said. "The failure to carry out justice in the Ahmaud situation said we needed to do more as citizens.”

In November, voters angered by Arbery's death ousted District Attorney Jackie Johnson. Greg McMichael had worked as an investigator for Johnson, who many blamed for playing a role in the delayed arrests, an accusation she denies.

Now local activists are calling for the creation of a citizen review board to help oversee the Glynn County Police Department, which handled the initial response to the shooting.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is asking Georgia lawmakers to all but eliminate an 1863 state law authorizing private citizens to make arrests. The prosecutor first assigned to the Arbery case cited that law in concluding the killing was justified.

The McMichaels' lawyers have said they pursued Arbery, suspecting he was a burglar, after security cameras had previously recorded him entering a home under construction. They say Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearing for his life as they grappled over a shotgun.

Prosecutors have said Arbery stole nothing and was merely out jogging when the McMichaels and Bryan chased him. They remain jailed without bond.

The anniversary march was organized by the 2:23 Foundation, a group founded by Vaughn and Arbery's cousin, Demetris Frazier, to fight systemic racism. Vaughn, who coached Arbery at Brunswick High School, said the slaying remains painfully fresh.

“You want to make sure you keep Ahmaud’s name alive, but it’s like reading an obituary over and over again,” Vaughn said. "It’s like reliving the past all over again. You’ve got to stay strong.”

___

Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.

Marchers hold candles up as they listen to a speaker during a march and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Marchers hold candles up as they listen to a speaker during a march and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Nine-year-old Alyria Carter, a cousin of Ahmaud Arbery, holds a candle as she listens to speakers during a vigil for Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Nine-year-old Alyria Carter, a cousin of Ahmaud Arbery, holds a candle as she listens to speakers during a vigil for Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Wanda Cooper-Jones holds a candle for her son, Ahmaud Arbery, accompanied by her brother, Imus Holmes. at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, marking the one year anniversary of Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)
Wanda Cooper-Jones holds a candle for her son, Ahmaud Arbery, accompanied by her brother, Imus Holmes. at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, marking the one year anniversary of Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Wanda Cooper-Jones kneels before the grave of her son, Ahmaud Arbery, at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)
Wanda Cooper-Jones kneels before the grave of her son, Ahmaud Arbery, at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Friends and family gather at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)
Friends and family gather at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Friends and family gather at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)
Friends and family gather at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Friends and family gathered at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)
Friends and family gathered at the New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to mark the one year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery's death in Brunswick, Ga. White men armed with guns pursued and killed Arbery, who is Black, as he ran through their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine)

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

Credit: Lewis M. Levine

In this May 17, 2020, photo, a recently painted mural of Ahmaud Arbery is on display in Brunswick, Ga., where the 25-year-old man was shot and killed in February. It was painted by Miami artist Marvin Weeks. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)
In this May 17, 2020, photo, a recently painted mural of Ahmaud Arbery is on display in Brunswick, Ga., where the 25-year-old man was shot and killed in February. It was painted by Miami artist Marvin Weeks. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)

Credit: Sarah Blake

Credit: Sarah Blake

In this 2012 photo provided by Yolanda Richardson, of FuzzyRabbit Fotos, Ahmaud Arbery poses for a senior photo on St. Andrews Beach, Jekyll Island, Ga. Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, after a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves and gave chase after seeing the 25-year-old black man running in their subdivision. (Yolanda Richardson/FuzzyRabbit Fotos via AP)
In this 2012 photo provided by Yolanda Richardson, of FuzzyRabbit Fotos, Ahmaud Arbery poses for a senior photo on St. Andrews Beach, Jekyll Island, Ga. Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, after a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves and gave chase after seeing the 25-year-old black man running in their subdivision. (Yolanda Richardson/FuzzyRabbit Fotos via AP)

Credit: Yolanda Richardson

Credit: Yolanda Richardson

In this May 17, 2020, photo, Wanda Cooper-Jones visits the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. In February, her son Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two men who told police they thought he was a burglar. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)
In this May 17, 2020, photo, Wanda Cooper-Jones visits the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. In February, her son Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two men who told police they thought he was a burglar. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)

Credit: Sarah Blake Morgan

Credit: Sarah Blake Morgan

Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Aubrey, center, walks away from the Glynn County Courthouse, Thursday, June 4, 2020, during a recess in the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting his son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Aubrey, center, walks away from the Glynn County Courthouse, Thursday, June 4, 2020, during a recess in the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting his son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, listens to a reporter's question in front of the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting her son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, listens to a reporter's question in front of the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting her son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, and family attorney S. Lee Merritt, left, leave the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting her son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, and family attorney S. Lee Merritt, left, leave the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting her son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

A group of protesters gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse during a preliminary hearing is being held inside for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are accused of shooting of Ahmaud Arbery while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
A group of protesters gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse during a preliminary hearing is being held inside for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are accused of shooting of Ahmaud Arbery while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

In this May 17, 2020, photo, Wanda Cooper-Jones stands near the spot where her 25-year-old son Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging through a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood. She says her son ran every day to clear his mind. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)
In this May 17, 2020, photo, Wanda Cooper-Jones stands near the spot where her 25-year-old son Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging through a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood. She says her son ran every day to clear his mind. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)

Credit: Sarah Blake Morgan

Credit: Sarah Blake Morgan

Ruby Arbery, an aunt of Ahmaud Arbery, speaks to people who gathered for a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for her nephew in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ruby Arbery, an aunt of Ahmaud Arbery, speaks to people who gathered for a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for her nephew in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, middle, is comforted by her brother, Inus Holmes, left, as she becomes emotional during a candlelight vigil in honor of her son at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., Tuesday evening Feb. 23, 2021. The event marks the fist anniversary of Arbery's death. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, middle, is comforted by her brother, Inus Holmes, left, as she becomes emotional during a candlelight vigil in honor of her son at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., Tuesday evening Feb. 23, 2021. The event marks the fist anniversary of Arbery's death. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

Credit: Michael Holahan

Credit: Michael Holahan

Nigel Dorsey wears his Ahmaud Arbery mask during a candlelight vigil in honor of Arbery at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., Tuesday evening Feb. 23, 2021. The event marks the fist anniversary of Arbery's death. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
Nigel Dorsey wears his Ahmaud Arbery mask during a candlelight vigil in honor of Arbery at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga., Tuesday evening Feb. 23, 2021. The event marks the fist anniversary of Arbery's death. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

Credit: Michael Holahan

Credit: Michael Holahan

Residents of the Satilla Shores watch a group of about 100 people march through their neighborhood during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud Arbery, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Residents of the Satilla Shores watch a group of about 100 people march through their neighborhood during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for Ahmaud Arbery, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot and killed last year while running in their neighborhood. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

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