It’s been one year since 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by three white men while jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood. His death sparked national outrage after video of his murder circulated social media two months after it happened.
The suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them, and no trial date has been set due to COVID-19 restrictions, though officials say a date might be set for the end of the year.
The case has passed through several district attorneys and is currently on its fifth DA assigned to the case. In the immediate aftermath of Ahmaud’s killing, the original DA assigned to the case failed to disclose personal relationships between the murder suspects and her office, or bring charges against the men for months after they killed Ahmaud. She was voted out of office in November.
In the year since his tragic death, Ahmaud’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones has awaited justice that has yet to come, though she recognizes the progress that has come as a result of her son’s life being cut short.
“To be honest with you, Ahmaud is the last thing I think about at night, and the first thing I think about each morning,” she said during the interview.
“I’m sorry I had to lose my son. I’m sorry life has to be taken to get change, but I’m thankful for that.”
Last year, Georgia passed a hate crime bill following Ahmaud’s death, the first of its kind in the state’s history.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp also announced plans to undo the state’s citizen arrest law that dates back to the Civil War, which states that citizens can arrest an individual they believe is suspicious of having committed a crime. The suspects in Ahmaud’s murder told police they thought he had robbed a home when they shot him in the middle of the street. The law is also what the original prosecutor on the case cited to justify why no charges were immediately brought against the men.
Georgia NAACP President James Woodalltold the outlet, “This one-year anniversary is very bittersweet because what was able to be done in the aftermath was we pushed the envelope on policy that continued to allow these acts of vigilante and racial and extrajudicial violence.”
“We were able to identify exactly what we wanted,” he added.
A candlelight vigil will be held this evening (February 23) to honor Ahmaud’s memory.
The federal investigation into this case continues as officials look to examine if civil rights were violated.
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