BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - This past year has been tough for the family of Ahmaud Arbery. Many of them dealing with the loss of their loved one in different ways.
Aunts, uncles and cousins of Ahmaud Arbery, also known as Quez, say his death brought an already close-knit family even closer as they continue to fight for justice.
“Quez was the king of this family.”
“We didn’t even want to do nothing for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and we usually be a family that come together and have dinner and stuff.”
It’s a loss Ahmaud Arbery’s family can’t shake.
“It’s a day-to-day basis. I don’t ever think you’ll ever get over it. You’ll always remember it,” said Thea Brooks, his aunt.
It’s what family members describe as a senseless killing.
“All I was doing was sitting around thinking about how my nephew got killed. Half of the time I don’t eat. Half of the time I don’t sleep,” said his aunt Ruby Arbery.
The way Arbery was shot and killed – while being pursed on foot by three white men in a pickup – keeps them up at night.
“Man I will never get over it, not the way he died,” said Gary Arbery, his uncle.
But knowing it happened to someone like Arbery, they say they’re angry.
“Ahmaud’s not the type of person to bother anyone. Very honest with you. He’s going to tell you the truth, whether you like it or not. He’s going to push you to be the best person you could be,” said his cousin Demetrius Frazier.
But that anger, that pain, the disbelief he’s gone has sparked a fire in many of Arbery’s family members.
“I remember just calling, calling everybody. Sending the clips out to celebrities and just praying someone would just use their platform to help shed light on a situation that happened in such a small city,” said Kevin Smith, his cousin.
Cousins, aunts, and uncles all becoming advocates for their loved one.
“I may not be out speaking a lot but I work on the other ends to do things to make changes,” said Carla Arbery, his aunt.
“It stopped being ‘what can I do?’ and it went more so to ‘do everything you can to make sure this never happens again,” said Demetrius Frazier.
So, what did the family do?
They held peaceful protests and monthly bike rides – anything to bring awareness to Arbery’s death.
“We all have purpose in life, but sometimes you don’t know your purpose. And so, when Ahmaud was killed, I found my purpose,” said Thea Brooks.
Their efforts are paying off, as they see the Glynn County community and the world rally behind them, calling for an end to racial injustice.
“The racist stuff is deep. Nobody knew it was that deep until Quez got killed,” said Gary Arbery.
“It changed a lot of lives and made people think differently. You know, treat people better and equally,” said Kevin Smith.
The support from friends and strangers has helped begin the healing, but faith is what keeps the family going.
“I thank God every day. I pray every day to keep us strong because that’s who we are,” said Ruby Arbery.
And the family needs that strength, saying there’s a lot more work to be done in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery.
“We got to stand behind him 100 percent because he’s not here to fight.”