“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need (of) spiritual and community support,” Sharpton said. He said his attendance was “not disruptive in any way” and was “at the invitation of the family.”
Attorneys Request “No More Black Pastors” in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial
After a civil rights leader attended proceedings, a lawyer for one of the three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery claimed his team did not want “any more Black pastors coming” into the Georgia courtroom.
Rev. Al Sharpton, whom the defense attorney quoted in requesting the judge in the high-profile case to exclude African-American clergy, was outraged by Kevin Gough’s remarks.
In February 2020, Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was pursued by the three men and fatally shot in a predominantly white neighborhood in the seaside city of Brunswick.
In the trial, the three have pled not guilty to the charges of murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment.
Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, said “If their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now, that’s fine. But then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here … sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence a jury in this case.”
Sharpton announced on his official Twitter account that he attended the trial on Wednesday and held a prayer vigil outside the courthouse with Arbery’s parents.
“We want to keep politics out of this case,” Gough said Judge Timothy Walmsley, adding that he did not learn about Sharpton’s presence until after that day’s court session.
He speculated that the appearance of people like Sharpton “could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury.”
”I’m not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom,” the judge told Gough.
If convicted of murder, Bryan, 52, as well as his neighbor Gregory McMichael, 65, and his son Travis McMichael, 35, face life in prison.