On February 23, two men pursued and fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through a south Georgia neighborhood near his home. After a video of the encounter was released, prompting a social media outcry and protests in Georgia, Arbery’s killers—a local father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael—were finally arrested this week and charged with murder and aggravated assault.
The details of the case—most notably, the fact that the McMichaels, who are white, didn’t face legal consequences until over two months after the shooting of Arbery, who was black—have gone viral. If you're looking for ways to help and spread the word, Arbery's best friend has organized an online fundraiser for Arbery’s family. Supporters also pledged to run 2.23 miles on Friday to commemorate Arbery’s birthday.
Before the Thursday night arrest, celebrities, artists, and activists had begun weighing in on the tragedy of Arbery’s death and the outrage of the McMichaels going free until the video, which the police had already seen, was leaked and went public. “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” NBA star LeBron James tweeted Wednesday. Kim Kardashian West took to Instagram to ask her followers to sign a petition for justice for Arbery, while Taylor Swift tweeted on Thursday, “I’m absolutely devastated and horrified by the senseless, cold blooded, racially motivated killing of Ahmaud Arbery. #JusticeForAhmaud.”
“I don’t want to beg, plead, reason, cry, or scream for you to see us as worthy of our breath. If you need to be cajoled into empathy, you are not who you think you are. I don’t want to wonder if you see our humanity. What do you see when you cast your eyes on us? We are worthy of peace, joy, grace, compassion, and every damn protection we are afforded by existing,” Gabrielle Union wrote on Instagram, adding, “We shot past sick and tired a long time ago. May God hold Ahmaud Arbery’s family and loved ones up to the light of goodness and hold them there.”
“I’m sick to my stomach and could barely watch the video. Another one of our future kings and leaders was murdered!!! To the family and friends of Ahmaud my thoughts and prayers are with you. Just because you may not experience racism, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and if you don’t think anything is wrong with this video or try to defend this in anyway, you are a part of the problem," wrote Michael B. Jordan.
“Ahmaud Arbery. We know your name. May you rest in peace and know that we are fighting for you. You deserved better than this. You were taken from the world almost 3 months ago and still no charges filed or arrests made. To Ahmaud’s mother: there are no words to explain how sorry I am for your loss. And that we still live in a world where this kind of disgusting, brutal violence and disrespect of life is still a reality. We demand justice for Ahmaud because we deserve justice. Perhaps you know his name by now, or perhaps you don’t. But please pay attention everyone. This is what’s happening in our country. This is what’s STILL happening in our country. And not only in Georgia. It’s happening everywhere," wrote Tracee Ellis Ross.
“To be chased down and murdered on his daily jog too closely parallels a past of racial terror. A haunting reminder that this terror has never been something of our past, but deeply entrenched in our present and with no arrests made of his murderers, feels as though we are guaranteeing this as our future. The right to life, as well as the right to live, is one that we must continue to fervently defend and we must continue to hold accountable systems which seek to disregard it," wrote Yara Shahidi.
“What do you say when there aren’t any words? When you’ve searched your heart, racked your mind, laid awake at night stirring—again—and all that’s left are unrelenting waves of loss. Loss of another innocent black life. Loss of an unknown future. Loss that will forever stain the lives of those who knew and loved him personally. Loss that MUST incite us all into action.
By now, you know the story. And if you do not, I have words for that but will hold them for another day...
Today, I hold space for collective rage and actionable anger. For those among us who are capable of standing in the gap for his loved ones who cannot fight for justice alone. For those with a heavy heart that will not allow them to sit idly by as another black man in America is slain in clear sight and laid to rest while his white male murderers walk freely, protected by our system.
This is the moment when allyship requires us to show up. Whether you have a public platform or not, we all have a horn to blow. We all have a community that we are responsible for informing into action," wrote Elaine Welteroth.
“I have never left a house since I was every-day-so-far years old without knowing I’m in cross hairs, in danger, to the ones closest to the ones farthest, don’t attempt to understand my pain and the fake smile I wear everyday so far just to get by," wrote Chase Hall.
"Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity.” James Baldwin. #JusticeForAhmaud," wrote Common.
“This country is so backwards and embarrassing and disgusting and disrespectful and CONSISTENT. Black bodies have always been disposable to y’all. Black bodies have always been an after thought. I didn’t want to see that video of Ahmaud Arbery being shot and killed at close range but it autoplayed on Twitter from a post without a trigger warning. I didn’t need to see the statistics in which Black people are disproportionately affected by COVID because I knew this. We know this. We live it. Black people know what this looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. We’ve seen it and felt it with our friends, family, our ancestors, ourselves. How much longer is the onus on us? How much longer will we have to bleed and scream and die? When will white people be loud for us? You know from all the damage and systemic oppression they created and actively benefit from... Link in bio to sign the petition, donate and make a call to demand justice for #AhmaudArbery. (image via: @ashleycimone, anger via: this country)," wrote Peyton Dix.
“Not long ago I mentioned to a group of white people that I never run at night because of the dangers of being a large black man running in the dark. I instantly knew they thought I was being extra. Turns out I was being understated. Ahmaud Arbery was running in the daytime," wrote Jelani Cobb.
“Sometimes I find myself thinking about the number of black lives that have been lost and largely went unnoticed in part because there was no video evidence and no social media and I can barely breathe…” wrote Eugene Scott.
Originally Appeared on Vogue