Memorials, lawsuit mark death anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery

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Evon Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery's aunt, left, is comforted by family during a memorial walk and candlelight vigil for her nephew at the Satilla Shores development, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year while while running in a neighborhood outside the port city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Family and friends walked in procession through the coastal subdivision where armed men chased and shot him in the street. Others joined his mother for a vigil at the rural church where he's buried. Lawmakers paused to remember him at the Georgia state Capitol, and President Joe Biden offered thoughts on the slaying one year ago of Ahmaud Arbery.

When the 25-year-old was killed on Feb. 23, 2020, few outside this Georgia port city paid much attention at first. As three men await trial for murder, those closest to Arbery sought to make sure his death isn't overlooked again.

“He isn't going to rest in his grave until we get justice,” Marcus Arbery, Arbery's father, said Tuesday evening as he and other family members led a group of about 100 supporters on a memorial march into the Satilla Shores subdivision.

That's where Arbery died bleeding in the street from three close-range shotgun blasts after a white father and son armed themselves and pursued him in a pickup truck upon spotting the young Black man running in their neighborhood.

In rural Waynesboro, Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, knelt by her son's grave outside New Springfield Baptist Church ahead of a candlelight vigil with family and supporters wearing masks and blue ribbons, a nod to Arbery's favorite color.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve healed much," Cooper-Jones told WRDW-TV before the vigil. "I’ve learned to take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour.”

Hours earlier, Cooper-Jones filed a civil lawsuit accusing the men charged in her son’s death and local authorities who first responded to the shooting of violating his civil rights. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court seeks $1 million. Attorneys for the men charged with killing Arbery say they suspected he was a burglar and they committed no crimes.

At the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta, Democratic lawmakers joined civil rights activists to mark the anniversary, which also got a mention from the White House.