Ahmaud Arbery’s mother is speaking out, accusing organizations of profiting off of his death. In a statement issued by Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, she calls out individuals and foundations for using Ahmaud’s name without her permission for financial and personal gain.
“I cannot in good conscience support a page that now appears more like a business opportunity for its staff rather than getting justice for my son,” she wrote.
“I want to shed some light on this so that I continue to prepare myself for the true fight of justice for Ahmaud, protecting his character, and being strong for my family,” Cooper said
She goes on to explain that the social media page I Run With Maud started out as a memorial for her son, but has now become a business. Cooper-Jones said that she reached out to the page administrators to address the issue, and was told the problem would be corrected. “However, that never took place,” she wrote, adding that she has now been denied access to the administrators of the page.
By the evening of Sept. 4, the I Run With Maud Facebook page could not be accessed, indicating that it has been deleted or its privacy settings changed.
Arbery, 25, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a white father and son who chased him down in pickup truck as he was on a run in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood. His death sparked national outrage, and eventually three men were arrested after footage of the encounter in the coastal Georgia town led to mounting public pressure. Ten weeks elapsed between Arbery’s slaying and the date of the first arrests in the case.
Cooper-Jones also revealed that someone filed a trademark for “I RUN WITH MAUD” on May 9, the day after her son’s birthday. “I did not agree to the trademark nor was I asked to be a part of it,” she wrote. She said one of the trademark applicants didn’t even know Ahmaud but was attempting to profit from his name.
A variety of T-shirts bearing the phrase “I Run With Maud” can be found for sale online by numerous different sellers.
Cooper-Jones said that she did not start the “I Run With Maud” GoFundMe, which has raised nearly $2 million. She said one of Ahmaud’s friends suggested a fund be opened and that she has returned to work.
Cooper-Jones also accused Jason Vaughn, a local high school coach who she said did not have a close relationship with her son, of profiting from his death through the organization Foundation 2.23. “Within seven days of the foundation’s launch, its organizers had already planned a large fundraiser,” she said. The numbers “2.23” represent February 23, the date on which Arbery was fatally shot.
“The truth is I buried my son and there is nothing about a trademark, a social media page,
money, or control that will fix that. I now must protect my son’s name,” Cooper-Jones said.
Gregory McMichael, 64, his son Travis McMichael, 34, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 50, have all been charged with felony murder in Arbery’s death.