Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she is taking her grieving process “day by day” during an interview at a vigil held for her son in Georgia on Tuesday, which marked one year since the young Black man was fatally shot in a case that belatedly led to the arrest of three white men.
Cooper-Jones told WRDW-TV that she hasn’t “healed much” after her 25-year-old son was killed while jogging down a road in a South Georgia neighborhood.
“I’ve learned how to take [it] day by day, sometimes... I pray, and I stand in my faith. God will get me through,” she said.
She later reflected on her grieving process, telling the local news station that one of the hardest parts of grieving was “imagining life without Ahmaud.”
“I’m very confident that we will get justice, but what’s so fearful is that after justice, Ahmaud won’t be with me,” she said.
In addition to the candlelight vigil, held in Waynesboro, Georgia, other family, friends and supporters walked in procession through the subdivision where Arbery was killed, The Associated Press reported.
“He isn’t going to rest in his grave until we get justice,” Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said on Tuesday, according to the AP.
Two white men, Gregory McMicheal, a 64-year-old former police officer and investigator for the local district attorney, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, pursued Arbery, a former high school football standout, with guns while he was out for his jog.
The McMichaels were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault months after police say the younger McMichael shot and killed the unarmed 25-year-old. The arrests happened days after video footage of the incident went viral online and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation from local authorities.
No arrests were initially made by the Glynn County Police Department after the shooting.
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 50, who filmed the shooting, was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment two weeks after the McMichaels were charged.
All three suspects, indicted on murder charges, remain jailed without bond.
Cooper-Jones filed a civil lawsuit earlier on Tuesday against the suspects and the local authorities who first responded to Arbery’s fatal shooting, the AP reported.
In her interview with WRDW-TV, Cooper-Jones said that her son was “loved by many.”
“Ahmaud just wasn’t a jogger, he just wasn’t,” she said. “He was a son, first, he was a brother, he was a grandson. Ahmaud was loved, he was loved by many.”
“What I hope to see is that one day that a Black man can feel like he’s free to run down the street without being chased and killed,” she later said. “I mean, it shouldn’t be a question at all.”
A number of elected officials joined Twitter users on Tuesday to reflect on Arbery’s life and his death.
Vice President Kamala Harris wrote, “As we remember Ahmaud today, we commit to building a future where Black Americans no longer have to live in fear— simply because of the color of their skin.”
President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter: “A Black man should be able to go for a jog without fearing for his life. Today, we remember Ahmaud Arbery’s life and we dedicate ourselves to making this country safer for people of color.”