Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery—the 25-year-old Black man who was murdered by two White men on February 23 while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia— questioned Georgia’s weak response to passing a hate crime law, in a New York Times video op-ed today (June 9) titled “How Was My Son Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder Not a Hate Crime?” 

Speaking directly to the camera, Cooper-Jones first reads from a card Arbery gave her, where he expressed his love for her as the “baby boy,” before pivoting to the facts that have since become public. Arbery jogged daily. He stopped at a construction site for a break. He was followed by three White men. Chased. Killed. 

“He was unarmed, but he was Black,” Cooper-Jones said. “To me, this was clearly a hate crime. But Georgia is one of four states in the country without a hate crime law. If Georgia had a hate crime law, Ahmaud’s killers could face additional sentencing for murdering my son because of the color of his skin.” 

She then explains why Georgia needs a hate crime law, even though Arbery’s murderers have been arrested and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating the ambush as a hate crime: 

“My son’s murder was not the only crime committed in Georgia that was motivated by prejudice. Ronald Trey Peters was murdered because he was gay. Witnesses say his attacker used an anti-gay slur Before shooting Peters multiple times. White supremacists spray-painted swastikas on a high school in Roswell. But parents say the bigger question is, why is there no hate crime statute here in Georgia? In November, a 16-year-old white girl planned a knife attack on a black church. The white suspect had researched black churches online and written down how she planned to carry out the attack. And it’s not just recent history. Georgia legislative council has called on the FBI to investigate the reorganized Klan. I know that prejudice and racism did exist in the place that I chose home. I had to explain to Ahmaud that he would be sometimes disliked because [of] the color of his skin. But when he left our home for a jog, I never thought that I needed to be worried. 

View the complete video op-ed below, courtesy of NYT: