Home / Entertainment / Ahmaud Arbery: The mother says the fundraising efforts take advantage of her son’s death

Ahmaud Arbery: The mother says the fundraising efforts take advantage of her son’s death

The video attracted public attention, and protesters gathered outside the courthouse after a preliminary hearing on the case could be heard chanting: “All lives matter when black lives matter,” according to CNN affiliate WJXT.

After the shooting, a registered trademark, a foundation, a GoFundMe account and a Facebook page were created in memory of Arbery. But some of those who created them now find themselves at odds with the mother of the dead.

“Money can’t replace what I’ve lost and the fight for justice doesn’t come without cost. I wasn’t asking for money and I was ready to fight for my son either way. I always worked for what I wanted,” said Wanda Cooper -Jones.

6;I run with Maud’

In the weeks before the arrest of Arbery’s accused killers, the “I Run with Maud” Facebook page emerged as a resource for thousands of people around the world demanding justice for Arbery. The page, run by Arbery’s childhood friend Akeem Baker, kept followers busy, prompting them to keep requests for action.

It has also inspired many to dedicate 2.23-mile fundraising runs to Arbery, the distance that commemorates the date of his death on February 23. Social media had become a valuable tool for garnering support at a time when mass gatherings were being discouraged or banned as the coronavirus pandemic progressed.

Ahmaud Arbery's final tragic race grips an anxious America

But Cooper-Jones said in a lengthy Facebook post earlier this month that while he initially accepted the social media page as a memorial – and appreciated its original intentions – he now sees it as “more of an opportunity. business for his staff rather than getting justice for my son. “

Cooper-Jones’s post goes on to say that she made multiple requests to gain access to the page as an administrator, but was denied. CNN made repeated requests for comment from current page administrators but received no response.

The Facebook page, originally called “Run with Maud”, has recently been renamed. It now operates under the title “The 2:23 Foundation”. It is also registered as a non-profit organization in Georgia under the name of Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s former high school football coach.

A statement announcing the rebranding explained the reasoning behind the move. “What we didn’t know about were the layers of injustice that encompassed more than our hometown, but extended to the state legislature. What started as a local movement has now become something that can affect the lives of many young men and women of color throughout our state, “says the statement quoted by coach Vaughn.

Those running it say the rebranding was not the result of a break with Cooper-Jones. “The rebranding was done to formalize the work we were doing as a group,” said John C. Richards, Jr., a co-founder of the foundation and brother of Vaughn in an email to CNN.

Cooper-Jones said Vaughn did not have a close relationship with his son. Not even three other members of the original committee pledged to promote justice for Arbery. “(They) have known for months that I didn’t want my son’s death to be exploited or used for profit by anyone. I was disrespected and ignored,” Cooper-Jones said in her post.

Marcus Arbery Sr., Ahmaud Arbery’s father, was unaware of the creation of a foundation resulting from the rebranding of the Facebook page.

Vaughn did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Trademark application

On May 9, two days after two of the three men were arrested in Arbery’s murder, family and friends gathered in Brunswick to celebrate what would be Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday. On the same day, a trademark application for “I Run With Maud” was filed which listed an address in Little Rock, Arkansas. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show Arbery’s childhood friend Akeem Baker and Vaughn’s brother John C. Richards as applicants.

Runners around the world have devoted 2.23 miles to shooting victim Ahmaud Arbery

“We’ve had an arrest (and within 48 hours these guys are applying for a brand,” Cooper-Jones said.

In a Facebook post, the foundation claims it has protected the trademark registered to prevent others from applying for it.

Repeated attempts to contact Akeem Baker for comment were unsuccessful. Richards refused to speak on the phone and cited a statement previously posted on the foundation’s page.

“As one of our team members said the sentence, we registered the name with the intention of keeping it for Ahmaud Arbery’s mother AND father, who are heirs to his property. We were asked to transfer that brand to Wanda. Cooper-Jones and we cannot do this in good conscience, as Marcus Arbery (Ahmaud Arbery’s father) is not listed as a recipient of GoFundMe funds … Currently, two of our team members are on trademark registration and our intention is yet to provide Mr. Arbery with something that we believe would honor his son’s legacy, ”the statement read.

Cooper-Jones told CNN that he has no problem with Marcus Arbery Sr. listed on the brand. When reached on the phone, Arbery Sr. said Baker had recently told him he would be transferring the brand, but no details were discussed.

The trademark application was conditionally approved this week citing Baker and Richards as owners. Cooper-Jones and his attorney S. Lee Merritt say they are planning to challenge the registration. They have the next four weeks to do so, according to US Patent and Trademark Office protocols.

“We shouldn’t be trying to add more pain, stress to a mother who recently lost her child. And it’s a shame these people in her community are pushing her through these obstacles,” Merritt said.

GoFundMe campaign

When Arbery’s death became national news, Baker created a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising $ 100,000 and named Cooper-Jones as the sole beneficiary.

“All donations are going into the fight to make sure justice is served and to ensure that Ahmaud’s mother has the resources she will need,” read the campaign description dated May 3.

Cooper-Jones told CNN that the campaign was created after Baker repeatedly asked her permission and ultimately gave her approval.

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With more than 61,000 people donating nearly $ 2 million, the campaign remains active. Cooper-Jones, who has since returned to work, told CNN she had a life insurance policy for Ahmaud and claims her goal has always been to get justice for her son, not to use his death. to raise funds.

Other GoFundMe campaigns have come under scrutiny in the past due to allegations of fraud. The crowdfunding site investigates allegations of criminal activity including fraud, identity theft and posting misleading claims about the campaign. It does not investigate campaigns that exceeded their fundraising goals, those that led to family disputes, or the use of names without family permission.

A GoFundMe spokesperson told CNN that beneficiaries can deactivate a campaign by requesting the organizer to do so or by contacting GoFundMe. Cooper-Jones told CNN that he was unaware the campaign was still active. She says she is grateful for the donations made in honor of her son.

For now, Cooper-Jones says he’s waiting to hear a trial date that he hopes will bring his son’s accused killers to justice.

“My goal was for every hand involved in my baby’s murder to go to jail. Everyone who played a role in it. This is my goal. I want justice for my baby. My baby is lying out there in the cemetery. which I visit once a week, “he said.

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