Ahmaud Arbery’s mom has blasted fundraising efforts set up in the wake of his death as running ‘more like business opportunities for its staff rather than getting justice’ for her son.
Wanda Cooper-Jones singled out ‘the founders of 2.23 and creators of I Run with Maud’ in a lengthy Facebook post on September 4 saying she ‘could not remain silent’.
She wrote: ‘I cannot in good conscience support a page that now appears more like a business opportunity for its staff rather than getting justice for my son.’
Unarmed jogger Arbery, 25, was shot dead last February 23 when a white father and son pursued him, authorities say. More than two months passed before Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.
A third man, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, a neighbor of the McMichaels who authorities say had joined in their pursuit of Arbery and recorded the cellphone video of the shooting, also was subsequently charged with murder. All three men remain jailed, awaiting trial.
In the wake of the shooting and amid growing public outcry the I Run with Maud was Facebook page was created and managed by Arbery’s friend Akeem Baker; it now operates as The 2:23 Foundation as a nonprofit organization.
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Ahmaud Arbery’s mom has blasted fundraising efforts set up in the wake of his death as running ‘more like business opportunities for its staff rather than getting justice’ for her son
Cooper Jones says she spoke with the founders of 2.23 and creators of I Run with Maud ‘several times to do my best to resolve this situation privately’ before posting to Facebook on the issue.
In a statement earlier this month the foundation said: ‘Our intention from the beginning was simple: Pursue justice for Ahmaud. Our team has not benefited financially from any of the work we have done to do just that.
‘In fact, we have spent our own money to help pursue justice. And we have gotten the support from Maud’s family in the process.’
DailyMail has contacted the group for additional comment.
Akeem Baker, right, friend to Arbery, and Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud’s sister, speak to a crowd gathered to honor his life on May 9 in Brunswick, Georgia. In the wake of the shooting and amid growing public outcry the I Run with Maud was Facebook page was created and managed by Baker
Addressing the GoFundMe set up in the wake of Arbery’s death Cooper Jones writes: ‘I did not ask anyone to make a GoFundMe, but was grateful for every contributor’
Records show the foundation was set up by Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s former high school football coach. Explaining their rebranding he said: ‘What we didn’t know about was the layers of injustice that encompassed more than just our hometown, but extended to the state legislature.
‘What began as a local movement has now become something that can impact the lives of many young men and women of color across our state.’
His brother, John C. Richards, told CNN: ‘The rebrand was done to formalize the work we had been doing as a group.’
Records show the foundation was set up by Jason Vaughn, a local high school coach
But Cooper Jones, while ‘appreciative for I Run with Maud, at first’, adds: ‘When the page began to transition to a business, my daughter and I addressed our concerns with the page administrators.
‘They originally acknowledged the transition and stated it would be corrected, however, that never took place.
‘I also asked to have access to the page as an administrator several times, and was ultimately denied any access, which began to alarm me.’
Cooper Jones also says she ‘did not agree to the trademark nor was I asked to be a part of it’ for I Run With Maud. She added: ‘One of the trademark applicants had never even met my son, yet applied for this trademark in an attempt to profit off Ahmaud’s name.’
On Vaughn she adds: ‘He is not a relative and did not have a close relationship with my son.
‘The I RUN FOR MAUD committee (all five members who I do not know well) have known for months I did not want my child’s death to be exploited or used for monetary gain for anyone. I was disrespected and ignored.’
And addressing the GoFundMe set up in the wake of Arbery’s death and which has raised close to $2 million Cooper Jones writes: ‘I did not ask anyone to make a GoFundMe, but was grateful for every contributor.
‘The GoFundMe was suggested to me by one of Ahmaud’s friends and I put my trust and faith into him that everything would be run appropriately.
‘Money cannot replace what I have lost and the fight for justice does not come without cost. I was not begging for money and I was prepared to fight for my son either way. I have always worked for what I wanted.
‘Since the passing of Ahmaud, I have returned to work because to work is all I know. To hear some people suggest that losing my son is a profit scheme is incredibly offensive to me and my family.
‘I am so disappointed that I must address this issue. The truth is I buried my son and there is nothing about a trademark, a social media page, money, or control that will fix that. I now must protect my son’s name.’
Wanda Cooper-Jones, pictured with her son, singled out ‘the founders of 2.23 and creators of I Run with Maud’ in a lengthy Facebook post on September 4
Cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun further fueled a national outcry over racial injustice.
Gregory McMichael told police after the shooting that he and his son pursued Arbery because they suspected him of being a burglar.
In a statement the 2:23 Foundation wrote: ‘Early in the process, on April 4th to be precise, we made Wanda Cooper-Jones aware of our intention to create a page to continue to pursue justice and discuss action steps for the local community.
‘Akeem Baker created a GoFundMe that initially asked for $100,000 to support Ahmaud’s family. Because of the attention the case garnered, that GoFundMe ballooned to nearly $2 million dollars. Wanda Cooper-Jones is currently the SOLE beneficiary for those funds and has a bank account set up to withdraw funds from that account.
In shocking cell phone footage Ahmaud Arbery is seen stumbling and falling to the ground after being shot as Travis McMichael stands by holding a shotgun
Gregory McMichael, left, and his son, Travis, right, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault over the death of Arbery
‘NONE of our team members have ever had access to any of the monies generated by the GoFundMe campaign. Every last dime of that money has gone to Wanda Cooper-Jones.’
‘They say they trademarked I RUN WITH MAUD ‘with the intention of preserving it for Ahmaud Arbery’s mother AND father, who are heirs to his estate’.
‘We have attempted countless times to reach out to her and counsel to discuss this privately. Today, she decided to make that conversation public.’