Oprah Winfrey has walked a symbolic 2.26 miles to mark Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday in a heartfelt video posted to Instagram.
Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed black jogger who was shot and killed allegedly by a white father and son ‘vigilante’ team.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the shooting death of Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.
The killing happened in February but the pair were only charged after footage of the attack was leaked online on Tuesday sparking outrage across America.
Oprah Winfrey walked 2.26 miles to mark Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday along with her partner Stedman graham
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23
‘Today would’ve been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday. But he’s not here to celebrate because he was senselessly shot and killed doing something to make his life healthier and stronger. He went out for a jog while being Black. I wonder what was he thinking in those last seconds of his life?,’ Oprah wrote in the Instagram post which has been viewed 3.5 million times.
‘Unimaginable to go for a run in 2020 and end up dead because of the color of your skin. I spoke with his mom Wanda yesterday who says she feels better now that the two men have finally been arrested. But they were only arrested because WE saw the video. Today people everywhere walked 2.23 miles in the name of Ahmaud and justice. We did 2.26 in honor of his 26th birthday,’ she continued.
People around the country are dedicating their daily jog or walk to him and posting about it on social media with the hashtags #RunWithMaud and #IRunWithMaud.
The distance signifies the date he was killed, February 23.
‘I wonder what was he thinking in those last seconds of his life?,’ Oprah wrote in the Instagram post which has been viewed 3.5 million times
Wanda Cooper, Arbery’s mother spoke out over her son’s brutal slaying on what would have been his 26th birthday and slammed law enforcement for failing to bring his killers to justice for months.
‘Today was a very emotional day as it was his birthday,’ she told CNN on Friday.
‘I felt better after the arrests last evening. But the weekend is going to be especially hard as I had Ahmaud back in 1994 on Mother’s Day.’
Cooper blasted the authorities for letting her son’s killers walk free for a staggering 74 days after his death, saying they simply took the ‘words from the actual murderers’.
‘I think that they were actually taking the words from the actual murderers,’ she told CNN.
Ahmaud Arbery’s heartbroken mom Wanda Cooper (above) has said she hopes her son’s killers spend the rest of their lives behind bars and revealed he was born on Mother’s Day in 1994 so this weekend will be ‘especially hard’ without him
‘They took their word, they believed what they said and they had not planned to make an arrest.’
Cooper said she wanted to thank everyone who had shown support for her and her family at this time and said she now hopes justice will be served to the McMichaels.
‘What I’m seeking is those guys – all the guys who were involved in the murder of my son – go to prison possibly for the rest of their lives,’ she said.
The family’s attorney Lee Merritt, also speaking on the show, called for justice to also be handed to the district attorneys who failed to prosecute the killers.
‘We have to get those DAs out that made a decision not to prosecute the case – we have to go after them,’ he said.
Gregory McMichael, 64, (left) and his son Travis McMichael, 34, (right) were finally arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the shooting death of Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, back in February after footage of the attack leaked online Tuesday and sparked outrage across America
An officer with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seen leading 34-year-old Travis McMichael out of the home in handcuffs
Exclusive photos show the moment Gregory McMichael (pictured) and his son Travis McMichael were arrested at their home in Brunswick, Georgia, on Thursday
Merritt said it was only through public pressure that the McMichaels had finally faced murder charges this week.
‘The video already existed, it was part of the investigation… it was the public seeing the video and allowing us to add common sense to it and raise our voice and demand these men be arrested’ that led to action against the suspects, he said.
‘We have been asking the DA’s office for this video for months since this happened and we were not given a copy of it,’ he added.
The Brunswick DA’s office has come under fire for its handling of the case.
The first two DA’s recused themselves from the case and the third passed it onto a grand jury before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) stepped in and took over the investigation – leading to the subsequent arrests of the McMichaels.
People react during a rally Friday morning outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man what would have been his 26th birthday
Two Glynn County commissioners have claimed that Brunswick DA Jackie Johnson – the first DA on the case – blocked police from arresting the suspects because she was friends with Gregory McMichael.
Officers investigating the scene of the fatal shooting told Johnson’s office they had cause to arrest the father and son at the time but the DA shut them down, they said.
Gregory McMichael had worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office until his retirement in 2019 causing Johnson to recused herself from the case a few days after the shooting.
‘She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael,’ Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker said.
Arbery can be seen stumbling to the ground as the clip comes to a close
Shocking cellphone video captured the moment the McMichaels confronted Arbery in the street. In the footage Travis is seen engaging in a physical fight with Arbery before shooting him with a shotgun