Ahmaud Arbery’s mother remembers her son one year after his death

'As time passes, I realize that Ahmaud is never coming back,' said Wanda Cooper-Jones in a recent interview.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot while jogging through a Georgia suburb. Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. all face murder charges in the death that added to a season of civil unrest and calls for social justice.

Read More: Travis McMichael attempts to explain killing of Ahmaud Arbery in new bodycam video

A year later, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, opened up to NBC News reporter Blayne Alexander about her son and the tragic incident. 

“I try but when I laid Ahmaud to rest last February, a part of me left also and it’s hard,” she remarked regarding the ability to move on.

“It’s rough. As time passes, I realize that Ahmaud is never coming back. I think before I was numb. I was in a state of just being numb. And as the days have passed, the numbness has left, and I’m really — it’s very painful. Very painful.”

Wanda Jones-Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery theGrio.com
Wanda Jones-Cooper with her son, Ahmaud Arbery (Personal Family Picture)

The footage of the murder became viral on the internet and shared as outrage grew. Cooper-Jones revealed her son’s last moments replay in her head daily.

Despite the tragic, violent death, she was encouraged by the protests in Arbery’s name and the widespread call for justice. She described the protests as “a sense of hope.”

“I wish the world would have gotten the chance to know Ahmaud, to really truly love Ahmaud,” she said.

Read More: Bodycam shows William ‘Roddie’ Bryan told police he repeatedly tried to block Ahmaud Arbery with car

On Tuesday morning, Cooper filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, naming both McMichael’s and Bryan Jr. of their involvement in the killing of Arbery.

According to NPR, the suit also names law enforcement and local prosecutors who “willfully and maliciously conspired to follow, threaten, detain and kill Ahmaud Arbery.” It lists fourteen counts, including excessive force, failure to prevent harm, and willful and wanton misconduct.

Cooper and the family emphasize that the only reason Arbery was attacked that day was that he was a Black man.

theGrio reported both McMichael’s and Bryan Jr. remain in custody as their trial date nears. A grand jury indicted the men who allegedly used racial slurs in their attack against Arbery on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. 

According to the report, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp released a bipartisan plan to repeal the citizen’s arrest statute the alleged murderers used to defend their behavior. The law has existed since 1863.

“Ahmaud was a victim of a vigilante-style of violence that has no place in Georgia,” Kemp stated. “In a national political climate where it often seems as if no one agrees on anything, I’m proud to say a bipartisan, wide-reaching group of individuals …supports this proposal.”

No trial date has been set for the three men as of now.

Wanda Cooper-Jones theGrio.com
Wanda Cooper-Jones (R), mother of Ahmaud Arbery, weeps while people gather to honor her son at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Read More: Georgia police chief, officer ousted after video of racist comments surfaces

WSB-TV 2 Atlanta reported the family planned a memorial procession for Arbery to take place on the anniversary of his death. The route will go through the Satilla Shores, the neighborhood where the 25-year-old was gunned down.

A virtual 2.23-mile run event was set up for supporters who are not local to the Georgia area.

“It is important to remind people of the origins when it all started,” said Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach to the news outlet. He assisted the family with organizing the events. “For a long time, it was like we were yelling into the dark, and nobody was listening.”

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