A group of armed Black men posted up in the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed in protest of his death.
On Saturday, the Panther Special Operations command armed patrol, along with members of I Fight For My People and My Vote Is Hip Hop, led a procession that celebrated Arbery’s life, reports the Daily Mail. A group of about 1,000 Black bikers and protesters walked through Satilla Shores with the 25-year-old’s family and friends and released balloons in the neighborhood where Travis and Gregory McMichael gunned down the unarmed jogger, according to WTOC.
The men, who were legally armed, seemed unfazed by the predominantly white residents.
“You think they would have shot me if I was running through they goddamn neighborhood?” one gun-toting man said. “Well I’mma give them an opportunity.”
Arme black men walking through the white neighborhood where AhmaudArbery was murdered pic.twitter.com/9qe1UtKIsP
— Brother tyrone X (@tyrone_brother) May 11, 2020
General Rottweiler, special operations commander of the group, said he wants justice for Arbery.
“You don’t win wars by marching and protesting you win wars by fighting back,” Rottweiler told CBS46. “You have to fight back. That’s the way I was bred and that’s the way the military teaches you. You have to fight back you can’t just sit there when your family gets murdered or people get murdered.”
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, said the group has a right to protest and carry firearms.
“When you see a person get shot with a shotgun three times that’s something triggering about that. It evokes a lot of images from the past with us, Emmett Till or Trayvon Martin,” Griggs told CBS46. “Everything that was happening was legal. We have a First Amendment right to protest, we have a Second Amendment right to bear arms, and in the state we have open carry in most places.”
He added that the NAACP encourages nonviolent protests.
“We just call on everyone to remain calm, let the process play out and if you feel the need to protest do it lawfully,” said Griggs.
Behind the Panthers, people held signs with phrases like “No Justice No Peace” and “Run With Maud” alongside pictures of the young man.
Armed Black Panthers show up in the neighborhood of the two men who lynched black man Ahmaud Arbery ✊ pic.twitter.com/bcwZrrlRwP
— #BigUs (@still_NunyaDB) May 11, 2020
It's unclear if the group has a formal affiliation with the Black Panther Party.
Akeem Baker, one of Arbery’s close friends, addressed the crowd and praised their friendship.
“A lot of people know him as Ahmaud Arbery, you know, around the world, but to me, you know, he was Maud A," Baker said. "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 be.”
Baker said Arbery dreamed of being “big one day.”
“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,” Baker said.
Arbery’s older sister, Jasmine, wished her late brother a happy birthday. Arbery would have celebrated his 26th birthday on May 8.
“We came here for a celebration and we wish him a happy heavenly birthday,” she said.