BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - The shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and the way his death was handled by county leaders put the national spotlight on Brunswick and Glynn County.
Community members WTOC talked to say there’s always been racial tension in the small community, but since Arbery’s death, they are now focused on creating change and moving forward.
Shot and killed while, family say, he was jogging in Satilla Shores. It was video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death that sparked outrage in Glynn County.
“I saw a heartbroken community, and a community whose eyes had been opened to the systemic racism that would allow this to happen,” said Glynn County resident Jim Barger.
Little did the community know, the video would also open the nation’s eyes.
“People came from all around to help protest and support the family,” said Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey.
This is Mayor Cornell Harvey’s eighth year as Brunswick mayor, and says this was the first time he saw his city turn anger into action.
“It seems there is a new or reckoning of coming together to keep this energy going and flowing until justice is served,” Mayor Harvey said.
During the November 2020 election, voters ousted Brunswick D.A. Jackie Johnson, who faced scrutiny for how she handled Arbery’s death.
Mayor Harvey says he believes the community, specifically the Black community, now understands the change voting can bring.
“Previously, voters would not come out but now they come out in mass and I am so happy and so proud of the young people. They now realize that their vote matters,” said Mayor Harvey.
New foundations and groups have been formed in Glynn County that focus on social justice issues.
Like the 2:23 Foundation, which has made sure to keep community members updated on the latest developments in Arbery’s case through social media.
“We’re gonna be in this for the long haul until the end of the trial, and then beyond that, we’re also going to be providing opportunities for young people to prevent this in the future,” said John Richards, co-founder of 2:23 Foundation.
The creation of the YOUth Speak Justice organization is an encouraging sight for longtime county residents, who say racism has deep roots in their community.
“They’re the future and they seem to get it. They understand there is a problem with racism,” said Glynn County resident Jim Barger.
Jim Barger is one of several residents who is finding ways to support the Arbery family and bring more awareness to racial injustice.
Last month was his first time joining in on the monthly “I Ride Beside Maud” bike ride.
“We have been wanting to show our support. We’re so glad we came out today,” said Barger.
Whether it’s by biking, showing up to peaceful protests, or attending city council meetings...
“We feel for each other”
There’s one thing that the Glynn County community is sure of…
“We have empathy for each other.”
It’ll continue to run with Maud.
“I think this community will see a growth, in that people will understand we’re here together and we can make things better.”
Mayor Harvey and other community members say Arbery’s parents and their actions are helping the county begin healing from this tragic loss.