Ahmaud Arbery's mother condemns Kanye West's 'White Lives Matter' shirt as legitimizing the 'extremist behavior' that 'took the life of her son,' family lawyer says
- Ahmaud Arbery's mother condemned Kanye West's stunt at his recent fashion show in Paris.
- West sported a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt, sparking reactions from activists and celebrities.
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was murdered by white men while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood in 2020, called out Kanye West for sporting a "White Lives Matter" T-shirt at his fashion show in Paris on Monday.
"As a result of his display 'White Lives Matter' started trending in the U.S., which would direct support and legitimize extremist behavior, [much] like the behavior that took the life of her son," the civil-rights attorney Lee Merritt told Rolling Stone in a statement on behalf of Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones. "That is the thing that Wanda and families like hers continue to fight against."
Videos that surfaced online this week show West and the models for his YZYSZN9 fashion show wearing a black, long-sleeve shirt with the phrase "White Lives Matter" on the back. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the racist slogan is used as a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement by white-supremacist groups, including the Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society.
The far-right pundit Candace Owens also shared a photo of herself and the rapper wearing the controversial shirts, sparking immediate backlash after the phrase began trending on social media.
A slew of celebrities, including Jaden Smith, who reportedly walked out of the show when the shirts were shown, have condemned West's actions.
The model Gigi Hadid called out West after he attempted to discredit a Vogue editor, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who called the shirts "pure violence" and "hugely irresponsible."
West responded by ridiculing Karefa-Johnson's outfit and saying she wasn't a "fashion person."
—Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) October 3, 2022
West took to Instagram to respond to the criticism on Tuesday, appearing to stand by his actions: "EVERYONE KNOWS BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM. NOW ITS OVER. YOU'RE WELCOME."
Cooper-Jones expressed her disappointment with West's sentiments in the statement to Rolling Stone.
"This mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his now denunciation of the movement as some sort of hoax flies directly in the face [of what he's said]," the statement continued, per the outlet."It's confusing for her, it's confusing for the families to receive his support privately, but publicly to set us all back."
At the pinnacle of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the "Off the Grid" rapper donated $2 million to families impacted by police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Arbery.
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