(Al Jazeera) A lawyer representing one of the three white men accused of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, told a judge the defence did not want “any more Black pastors” coming into the Georgia courtroom where the trial is being held.
Lawyer Kevin Gough made the comments on Thursday as the trial of father and son – Gregory McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35 – and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan continued. The trio are accused of chasing down and fatally shooting 25-year-old Arbery as he was running in a mostly white neighbourhood in the city of Brunswick in February 2020.
Gough, who represents Bryan, made the comments after US civil rights leader, Reverand Al Sharpton, attended the trial on Wednesday and conducted a prayer vigil with Arbery’s parents outside the court.
“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,” Gough said.
“We want to keep politics out of this case,” he added, suggesting the presence of figures like Sharpton “could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury”.
Judge Timothy Walmsley responded he was “not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom”.
Sharpton swiftly condemned the request, which comes amid a trial many observers view as the latest referendum on racial justice in the US. Video of Arbery’s killing, along with the killing of several other Black people in the US, helped to stoke months-long demonstrations in 2020.