WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – “That was my baby,” is an exclamation by Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, that is echoing through the Georgia pines in Burke County.
Tuesday, marked the one-year anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery’s death and many people came together at New Springfield Baptist Church for a candlelight vigil. The church where Arbery was laid to rest.
“Ahmaud is from here. His family is here. He went to school here. His friends, relatives, things like that. When something unfortunate happens to one of our citizens here in our county we take that as if it’s family,” said Burke County Sheriff’s Office Captain Randall Norman.
Another man said, “The time has come for the community to wake up, wise up, rise up, speak up, and challenge the individuals who are silent about this injustice.”
Some say the vigil was not just a celebration of life, but a reminder that the call for justice continues.
“Not done fighting for her son, that she’s going to have justice criminally and civilly. And it’s going to be more than just the terrible men who acted but for everyone who justified it and denied her and left her in the dark for so long,” said lead civil rights attorney Lee Merritt.
Arbery’s mother is filing a civil rights lawsuit in his death.
Merritt explained with Cooper-Jones at his side, “That lawsuit is alleging a conspiracy to violate the rights of Ahmaud Arbery and of Wanda Cooper-Jones by both deputizing private citizens to complete police actions. And then doing the work of covering up, ensuring they escape justice.”
Arbery was shot to death on February 23, 2020. The incident in Brunswick sparked outrage all over America. Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with his murder.
Investigators say the suspects said they chased Arbery because they thought he was a burglar.
Travis McMichael shot Arbery twice, according to police. All three suspects have pleaded not guilty.
“The suit is just beginning and so as additional evidence comes in through the discovery process, we may re-evaluate,” said Merritt.
Stay with us for the latest developments on the pending lawsuit.