BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The hashtag “I run with Maud” has gained national attention in the wake of the February 23 shooting death or Ahmaud Arbery. The phrase has spurred on countless people to run 2.23 miles in honor of the date Arbery was shot.
Akeem Baker, Arbery’s longtime best friend, is the creator of the Facebook group “I run with Maud”.
“Coming up since yay high, he's my best friend, the one I can confide in,” said Baker.
Baker and Arbery grew up together. They were classmates and teammates.
“It’s absolutely wrong the way he died, he meant so much to me and to so many lives,” he said.
Baker said the Facebook group is a platform to keep the community engaged and united as the case is investigated, as well as a way to commemorate Arbery.
Jason Vaughn has helped with community efforts since Arbery was killed. In fact, he said Arbery’s mother was having a hard time getting ahold of attorneys, so Vaughn turned to his brother, who is certified to practice law in Georgia but lives in Arkansas, for help. Ever since then, he said they’ve been rallying for “justice” with his brother's advice.
“Our community as a whole is left asking questions about our policing agency,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn was Baker and Arbery’s football coach at Brunswick High School. He remains a friend with both families today. He helped coin the phrase “I run with maud” after the last time he saw Arbery before his death.
“It was a fall football morning and I see Ahmaud running so I decided I'm going to catch up with him so I can give him a hug, see his smile, give him a hard time like a coach would to a player,” said Vaughn.
Vaugh said he started running after Arbery, but his former player was too fast that day so he never caught up to him. Unfortunately, that was the last time he saw Arbery before he was killed.
“I always wish I had caught up with Ahmaud that day to see that smile for one last time. Ahmaud had great, great endurance, so that’s why I'm not running, Ahmaud is running and I run with Maud.”