Hundreds gather to release balloons to honor Ahmaud Arbery’s birthday

*(source: WTOC)
Updated: May. 9, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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GLYNN CO, Ga. (WTOC) -The death of Ahmaud Arbery’s death has garnered national attention, with many renewing calls each day this week for justice.

Dozens of joggers made the trip to Brunswick to be a part of a walk for justice in Arbery’s memory on Saturday morning. This group wasn’t alone.

Hundreds came to the town to celebrate Arbery’s life.

Arbery’s mother was overcome with grief at her first appearance at one of many public rallies since he son was shot and killed 76 days ago.

The balloon release drew a massive crowd of more than 1,000 bikers and Black Panthers leading a procession that included friends, family, and loved ones.

Some closest to Arbery spoke to the crowd. One of them was his best friend.

“A lot of people know him as Ahmaud Arbery, you know, around the world, but to me, you know, he was Maud A," said Akeem Baker. "Maud A. That was who he was to me. A phenomenal friend. Nothing short of the word phenomenal. True friendship is built on trust, and Maud A, was the most trustworthy individual that ever lived. Someone you could confide in, you know? He was just all-ears when you needed him to me.”

He continued, saying “You used to tell me that, ‘Lo, I’m going to be big one day, bro. I just don’t know how, but I’m going to be big one day, man.’ You used to tell me that all the time, and you’re leaving your mark on the world right now, man. You’re bringing the world together.”

Arbery’s older sister Jasmine asked the crowd to use Saturday to celebrate her brother’s life.

“We came here for a celebration and we wish him a happy heavenly birthday,” she said.

People from all walks of life, including the Black Panthers, came to support the family of Arbery.

“The fact that it is this close to home is bizarrely shocking," said Obaadefunami, King of the Oyotuagi Village. "It’s terribly shocking, but it’s always close to somebody’s home.”

Friday would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday.

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