Detroit runners to honor the birthday of slain Black Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery

May 7, 2020 at 5:37 pm
Black run clubs in Detroit are coming together to honor the slain Georgia runner Ahmaud Arbery on what would have been his 26th birthday.

Video footage released this week reveals Arbery's tragic final moments while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick, not far from where he lived, on Feb. 23. Arbery was shot by two white men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael.

Both men claim that Arbery matched the description of an individual suspected of a break-in in the area. Upon seeing Arbery running, something the former high school football player and aspiring boxer did regularly, the two men armed themselves with guns before tracking him down and blocking his route in a pickup truck. After Arbery and the younger McMichael struggled over the shotgun, Arbery was shot twice by Gregory, a retired Glynn County police officer and investigator, from the bed of the truck. Arbery was unarmed.

The video, which was filmed by a third suspect, Bryan Williams, has been widely circulated on social media has sparked national outrage as yet another example of lethal racism, one that has drawn comparisons to the 2012 murder of unarmed Black Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

On Friday, May 8, on what would have been Arbery's 26th birthday, run groups are organizing nationwide dedication runs. Among those groups participating are Black Men Run, a national organization with 300 members in its Detroit chapter, and We Run 313, which will run 2.23 miles — a distance that represents the day he was killed — in celebration of Arbery's life. Runners not able to participate are invited to complete their own honorary run, jog, or walk in solidarity.

“Our run club is majority Black and our founders are Black, so we felt it was very necessary to participate in the run,” Lance Woods, co-founder of We Run 313, told The Detroit Free Press. “That could have easily been one of us and we want to stand in solidarity with him and in a way, speaking out against what's happening to Black men in this country.”

The Justice for Ahmaud campaign is also asking for support via a petition that looks to expedite the arrest of the McMichaels after District Attorney Tom Durden has agreed to bring the case before a Grand Jury, which may be delayed as late as mid-June due to the coronavirus. However, as the campaign addresses, a Grand Jury hearing is not required to arrest and hold the two men.

The petition has exceeded 1,000,000 signatures.

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