Ahmaud Arbery’s mom: Thankful for justice and son’s legacy

Nov 25, 2021, 9:43 AM | Updated: Nov 27, 2021, 6:56 am
Tears streak down the cheek of Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones after the jury convicted T...

Tears streak down the cheek of Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Ahmaud Arbery’s mother woke up Thursday with a new, very important blessing on Thanksgiving Day.

But there will still be an empty chair at the family’s celebrations. It is a reminder that while she feels justice was served when the three white men who helped shoot her son were convicted Wednesday for cornering and killing him as he ran through a coastal Georgia neighborhood, she will never be made whole again because her son is gone.

“This is the second Thanksgiving we’ve had without Ahmaud. But at the same time I’m thankful. This is the first Thanksgiving we are saying we got justice for Ahmaud,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.

The three white men who chased and killed Arbery in Brunswick in February 2020 were all convicted of murder Wednesday. They cornered Arbery after finding out he had been seen on a surveillance camera at a nearby house under construction and wanted to question him about recent burglaries in the area.

Arbery ran through the neighborhood and other areas near his home to clear his head. He had nothing in his hands and ran from the men for five minutes before one of them shot three times at him at close range with a shotgun. The men face life in prison when they are sentenced later and a federal hate crimes trial for them is scheduled for February.

Cooper-Jones said after the verdicts were read Wednesday, she thought of her son’s supporters at the Glynn County courthouse every day who shouted “Justice for Ahmaud!”

“I finally got a chance to come out of those courtroom doors and say, we did it, we did it together,” Cooper-Jones said.

Sitting beside Cooper-Jones as she heard the judge read out guilty 23 times was the mother of Ronald Greene, a Louisiana man who died in 2019 after he was beaten and put in a chokehold by state troopers after a high speed chase. Troopers said Greene suffered his injuries in a crash, but his doctors reported that didn’t appear to be true. A federal civil rights investigation into Greene’s death continues.

In the days after her son was killed. Cooper-Jones got a call from the mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teen killed by a man who successfully claimed self-defense during his murder trial after confronting Martin as he walked in his gated community. Martin was visiting relatives.

She also spoke with the mother of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police who burst into her home without knocking while serving a warrant during a drug operation. Taylor’s boyfriend fired on the group. The officers were not charged in her death.

Other mothers who have lost sons and daughters to racial violence or in police shootings also reached out. Cooper-Jones calls them a sorority.

“We come together. We share our experience and we grow together,” she said.

Cooper-Jones spent the past six weeks away from home, since jury selection started Oct. 18. She moved away from Brunswick after her son was killed.

So she plans a quiet Thanksgiving away from home today. She isn’t sure if they will make Arbery’s favorite — pork chops and butter beans, but if not Thursday, the they will have them soon because she said her son loved them for Sunday dinner.

“Today is actually going to be a day of rest. I’ve been sitting in that courtroom since October 18,” Cooper-Jones said. “I’m gathering my immediate family. We’re going to have a small dinner. We’ve going to be thankful. We’re going to give our praises to God.”

Other relatives are also grateful for the blessing of justice.

“We’re thankful for Ahmaud’s life. Thankful for the love that he’s shown us, for the years we had him. Thankful for the fight we stayed in for justice. Thankful that now we can start healing,” Arbery’s aunt Thea Brooks told the AP.

Cooper-Jones is also thankful her son’s killers are facing justice and his death will make Georgia a safer place.

After Arbery’s death, Georgia became the 47th state to pass a hate crimes law. The Legislature also repealed the citizen’s arrest law that defense attorneys tried to use to justify chasing him, banning people who aren’t officers from detaining people outside of shoplifting.

“When they hear my son’s name. they will say, this young man, he lost his life but he did bring change,” Cooper-Jones said.

___

Jeffrey Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Alex Sanz in Atlanta and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trai...
Associated Press

US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion. The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that […]
21 hours ago
This cover image provided by Random House shows "A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Blac...
Associated Press

Hanif Abdurraqib, Tom Lin receive Carnegie literary awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Receiving a literary prize from the American Library Association is a kind of homecoming for the essayist-poet Hanif Abdurraqib. “When I was young, I treated the library as a place to pass time, to get lost in books that I could have otherwise not afforded to own, music that I could […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers an address, during the COP26 Summit, at t...
Associated Press

News report: Australian leader’s WeChat account taken over

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account on Chinese-owned social media platform WeChat was taken over and renamed, and a lawmaker on Monday accused China’s leaders of political interference. Morrison’s 76,000 WeChat followers were notified his page had been renamed “Australian Chinese new life” earlier this month and his photograph had been […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
Associated Press

Don Wilson, guitarist with The Ventures, dies at 88

Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died at the age of 88.
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Virginia’s new AG removes 2 lawyers at public universities

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s new Attorney General Jason Miyares has fired lawyers for two large public universities, his office said, marking more significant changes as the Republican ascends to his new job. Tim Heaphy, counsel for the University of Virginia, and George Mason University counsel Brian Walther have been let go, Miyares spokesperson Victoria […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Former Gonzaga player John Stockton talks about his career during a National Collegiate Bask...
Associated Press

Gonzaga suspends Stockton’s season tickets over mask rule

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Gonzaga has suspended John Stockton’s basketball season tickets after the Hall of Fame point guard refused to comply with the university’s mask mandate. Stockton, one of Gonzaga’s most prominent alums, confirmed the move in a Saturday interview with The Spokesman-Review. “Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.
...
Canvas Annuity

Annuity basics: how to retire with a guaranteed paycheck for life

Does the thought of retirement fill you with stress or with happiness? Everyone wants to spend their retirement in a way that brings them the most joy, whether that’s traveling the world or spending extra time at home with grandkids.
...
PNC BANK

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
Ahmaud Arbery’s mom: Thankful for justice and son’s legacy