The sister of Ahmaud Arbery said she and her younger brother were only a year apart and often celebrated their birthdays together. And though she’s still stunned by his death, Jasmine Arbery says she must be his voice.
“Ahmaud was the person who encouraged, who helped me to reach my goals, and helped me through crisis,” she said. “I was his older sister and I was his protector. I’ll always be his protector. I want his voice to shine through me.”
Jasmine Arbery was among the participants Friday afternoon in a virtual “town hall” discussion of racial disparities and injustices. The “YOUth Speak Justice” event, hosted by the Coastal Georgia Community Action group, tackled the topics of social justice and the criminal justice system during the 90-minute event, broadcast on Facebook live.
» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Ahmaud Arbery shooting
“Talking about him is like taking a breath of fresh air,” Jasmine Arbery said. “If you notice, I’m smiling right now.”
Teens and young adults from Georgia and Wisconsin were on the panel for the town hall. Participants included James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, as well as high school and college students. The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Wisconsin, also helped organize the event.
The family of Ahmaud Arbery has said he was jogging when he was shot and killed on Feb. 23. Travis and Gregory McMichael were later charged with murder and aggravated assault after a video of the shooting was released.
Attorneys for both McMichaels have said the public does not yet know all of the facts in the case.
Friday’s discussion avoided specifics about the Arbery case. Instead, it focused on how to spark change moving forward. Woodall said citizen’s arrests, cited by some as a defense of the McMichaels, should no longer be allowed.
“I really want us to push for the repeal of this law because quite frankly it’s racist,” he said.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, spoke briefly during the town hall, thanking all of the participants for their efforts.
“Stick to what you guys believe in,” Cooper said. “You are going to be our voice in the future.”
Jasmine Arbery, a graduate of Albany State University with a degree in psychology, said she previously worked as a counselor in a youth detention center. Black young people face more scrutiny than others, she said.
“We’re policed more in our neighborhoods,” she said. “Of course, when you’re looked at more, you tend to find an issue there.”
Jasmine Arbery is currently pursuing a master’s degree and hopes to become a licensed professional counselor. During Friday’s meeting, event leaders encouraged those watching to make donations through the Boys & Girls Club to the Arbery family, with a specific goal of offsetting the costs of Jasmine’s degree.
The support and attention that her brother’s death has generated has been overwhelming for the family, Jasmine Arbery said. But the family is grateful that Ahmaud has not been forgotten.
“Please don’t ever stop seeking justice for my brother and your loved ones,” she said.
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