written by @lysshoekstra
One of the defense attorneys in the Amaud Arbery murder trial has asked a judge to ban the Arbery family’s attorney from wearing a face mask that reads “George Floyd” in court. During a pretrial hearing, a lawyer for William “Roddie” Bryan, one of the men suspected of fatally shooting Arbery, asked the judge to ban the lawyer for Arbery’s family, S. Lee Merritt, from wearing his mask. Merritt appeared in court with a black face mask with Floyd’s name on it on multiple occasions, according to NBC news.
“If we are permitted to wear masks making political statements, then Mr. Evans and I and his office should be free to wear ‘MAGA’ masks if we wanted to in the courtroom,” said Bryan’s defense attorney Kevin Gough. “I imagine the court wouldn’t appreciate that. And I think the same rules should apply and any political statements whether on masks, on lapels, bumper stickers, T-shirts. Whatever people (wear), this is not the place for political statements.” He further argued that any mask worn in court should be “content-neutral.”
Chatham County Judge Timothy Walmsley overruled the defense’s request and said he hadn’t noticed Merritt’s mask. “I’m not one for games,” he told Gough. “If anything the court becomes disruptive, it’s the court’s position that that disruption will be dealt with. This is not a place to make a statement.”
During the same hearing, Gough also requested that bail be set for Bryan. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, asked the judge to keep Bryan in jail stating, “He does not believe there’s anything wrong with what he did. He wants this court to allow him to go home. I am asking this court to say, ‘No,’ He cannot go home. He did not allow my son to go home.” Prosecutor Jesse Evans pointed out that if convicted, Bryan is facing a long stay in prison. He also presented text messages from the defendant’s phone revealing frequently used racist language. One alleged text of Bryan’s read, “Working like an ‘N’ today.”
Bryan is one of three men who were indicted last month, by a Georgia grand jury on murder charges in the Ahmaud Arbery case. The other two men, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, are also charged with fatally shooting Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia on Feb. 23. They claim he “resembled a burglary suspect.” Prosecutors say while Arbery was out for a jog, the men pursued him in Bryan’s pickup truck, used to prevent Arbery from fleeing, while the McMichaels shot him. All three men have all pleaded not guilty.