On Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging through his neighborhood when he was chased down by Gregory McMichael and his son Travis. The two men saw him and assumed he was a burglary suspect, ultimately shooting and killing him during the incident. Arbery's cousin, Tracy Walker, has since weighed in after the two men were arrested in Georgia.
Speaking with E! News, the Detroit Lions safety expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support on social media that ultimately led to the arrests of McMichael and Travis. Prominent figures such as LeBron James, Gabrielle Union and Taylor Swift have called for justice after the incident. They all hope that "justice will be served" in this situation, but Walker is hoping for something more. He doesn't want the public to forget Arbery. He wants the country to learn from this situation.
"It's amazing to have that much support, have that many people get behind one simple cause, and that's justice… That's all we could ask for," Walker said. "It's crazy that a man was out there jogging by himself and just getting exercise and he was shot down. We can't continue to kill ourselves and kill each other off. That's not ok. We can't continue with the violence."
Friday would have been Arbery's 26th birthday. He is no longer alive, but the family is "taking comfort" in the fact that arrests have been made. Walker is also remembering the times that his cousin would try to cheer him up after tough losses. He said that Arbery as "full of laughter and joy" and that he went about life with the goal of trying to make others smile.
"We're definitely missing his presence, I mean, it's as simple as that. He was a blessing in our lives and honestly, he's gone," Walker said about his cousin. "We can never bring him back and that's the sad part about it. We'll never have him smiling on this earth down here with us. But like I said, we know he's in a better place and he's smiling down on us and he's going to want us to continue living our lives. That's all we can do and we just have to continue to push forward."
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a statement on Friday saying that an independent investigation into the handling of the case will be held. Part of the statement said that the goal is to ensure that the Arbery family is "not further traumatized." The investigation will be done "thoroughly and expeditiously" in order to ensure that justice is served.