On today, May 8, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery would have been 26 years old.
Now, people on social media are honoring Arbery who was shot and killed when vigilantes Gregory and Travis McMichael believed he was a neighborhood burglar and followed him in their truck in Brunswick, Georgia.
The McMichael’s were arrested and charged with murder by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) on Thursday. The person who filmed the graphic video of Arbery’s death, William “Roddie” Bryan, did not get charged despite leaders calling him out as a suspect in the incident. Bryan is still being investigated by the GBI so there’s still a chance he can be arrested, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, people and organizations across social media have been calling on people to run 2.23 miles in honor of Ahmaud, using the hashtag #IRunWithMaud. The number coincides with the date Arbery was killed, which was February 23, 2020. Folks would also be running on his birthday.
Arbery’s high school football coach, Jason Vaughn, has been vocal about Arbery’s death since it happened over two months ago. In a Friday tweet, he posted a video of himself tearfully saying:
“Maud I’m standing in the same spot the last time I seen you. Take a run. I thought I could sprint to catch up with you, but you were moving so fast and as you hit the corner, I realized that I didn’t have enough speed to catch up with you. But Maud with God’s strength, I will not get tired until we get justice. Until your family finds peace. I want you to know this morning, Maud, that you got a whole community behind you. I run with Maud.”
People across social media also joined Vaughn in running for Maud making sure they posted their miles ran along with their picture.
Considering the social distancing restrictions across the country do to the coronavirus pandemic, the running campaign serves as an example of physical and digital protesting in the era of COVID-19.
Although some organizations like Georgia NAACP are still gathering in person to protest, most groups are still taking precautionary measures to staying safe, such as wearing protective masks and trying their best to maintain social distancing.
Although, the GBI has arrested and charged the McMichael’s, they have yet to be indicted by a grand jury, which is out of session do to the coronavirus. The freeze on empaneling grand juries is expected to continue through June 12. However, demands are being made to have a grand jury convene sooner.