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'My hopes and dreams are that Ahmaud's legacy will last forever': Brunswick street named after Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery was killed on a public street in Glynn County two and a half years ago. Tuesday, a public street in that same community was named after him.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It's a sign of healing for Ahmaud Arbery's family and the community where he was killed. 

A day after the men already convicted of his murder were sentenced for federal hate crimes, city leaders in Brunswick, Georgia honored Arbery's memory. They renamed a downtown street for the 25-year-old Tuesday.

Street signs honoring Arbery now stretch the entire length of Albany Street. The street is home to the now iconic mural of Arbery.

"It gave my son life," Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said. "When I pulled that sign down, I just thought about his whole life. Every time I look at that sign, me and my family, we are just going to have to think about his life," he said.

Arbery Sr. and Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said they never imagined a street would be named after their son.

"I knew Ahmaud would be great as a child, but I didn’t think that he would be great as of this measures," Cooper-Jones said.

“I think Ahmaud would be pleased, but he always said that he was a king and now he’s definitely a king," she said.

“I didn’t imagine it, but what God say … when God says he works, he gives you double for your trust," Arbery Sr. said.

Dozens of people, including city leaders, attended the unveiling ceremony Tuesday morning. They chanted Arbery's name as his parents pulled down the piece of fabric, unveiling the sign.

"I want to say thank you to the city of Brunswick for honoring my family, honoring Ahmaud, because my only prayer is you guys will not forget his name. Please promise me you guys will always say his name," Cooper-Jones told the crowd, tearing up.  

“It was very, very important because this is the city where the tragedy happened at, and for them to honor Ahmaud in this way was huge. I did ask the crowd to continue to say his name because it’s very, very important that Ahmaud left at the very, very young age of 25 and my hopes and dreams are that Ahmaud’s legacy will last forever," she said.

Cooper-Jones' attorney, Lee Merritt, said the unveiling symbolizes healing for this community.

"The fact that the city has taken the time to name a street honorary after Ahmaud Arbery, it means a couple of things," Merritt said. 

"It means that they want to preserve his legacy, but it’s also an acknowledgement that the city had a role in this both as victim and victimizer because it was Glynn County officers, as I mentioned, who empowered these men, these vigilantes, in the first place, so to see the city begin to take steps to try to rectify that means the world to me," Merritt said. 

Arbery's family said the fight isn't over. They now have their sights set on former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson. She was indicted on charges last September related to how she initially handled the investigation into Arbery's murder. There's no court date set yet in that case. 

Merritt and Arbery Sr.'s attorney, Ben Crump, also filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Arbery's family in 2021.

It demands millions of dollars in damages from Johnson, Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill who was the second DA to handle the case and several Glynn County Police Officers. It also asks for a jury trial, and says the three men who murdered Arbery violated his civil rights. 

The civil case was put on hold until the end of the criminal proceedings. A spokesperson for Merritt said it should be reopened soon.

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