Defense in trial for Arbery’s killing speak out against ‘Black pastors’ coming to court

"We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here," defense attorney Kevin Gough declared.

The lawyer for one of the accused killers of Ahmaud Arbery has made clear that he does not want “Black pastors” coming to court and sitting with the victim’s family. 

Defense attorney Kevin Gough for William ‘Roddie’ Bryan complained to the judge after Rev. Al Sharpton showed up to sit with Arbery’s family in the courtroom this week, calling the optics “unfair.”

“I’ve got nothing personally against Mr. Sharpton … but if we’re starting a precedent where we’re gonna bring high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to consciously or unconsciously pressure or influence the jury,” Gough reportedly ranted to Judge Timothy Walmsley, according to TMZ.

He continued, ” … if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”

Gouge argued that the presence of such individuals could influence the jury. 

Left to right: Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.(Photo: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Arbery, 25, was chased and fatally shot on Feb. 23, 2020 by white father and son Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael while jogging. The McMichaels, accompanied by their white neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, pursued Arbery in their truck, believing he was responsible for a string of robberies in the Satilla Shores subdivision. Bryan captured the incident on cellphone video. 

It took more than two months for the men to be charged, which occurred only after public outcry about the leaked video. 

Sharpton has responded to Gough’s accusations of courtroom “intimidation” after attending the trial in Brunswick, Georgia on November 10.  

“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 spiritual and community support,” Sharpton said in a statement.

“My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly,” Sharpton continued.

“The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a “black pastor” or not?

Al Sharpton
Cilvil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton speaks at a press conference on voting rights outside of the U.S. Capitol on September 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds,” the statement continued. 

“I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim,” Sharpton concluded.

The judge presiding over the case stated that Sharpton’s presence was not a distraction to the proceedings.

Each defendant is facing a total of nine counts. The McMichaels and Bryan are charged with one count of malice murder, four counts felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count false imprisonment, and one count criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. A 12-member jury will decide if they are guilty or not.

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