Rev. Al Sharpton said he plans to continue provide courtroom support to the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the young Black man who was killed while jogging through a subdivision just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, in February 2020, despite objections from a defense attorney representing one of the men accused of murder in Arbery’s slaying.
“If we’re going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we’re going to 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 pressure … or influence the jury,” Kevin Gough said to Glynn County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley in court on Thursday, Nov. 11.
The attorney represents William “Roddie” Bryan, the white man who captured the slaying of Arbery on cellphone video. Bryan and father-son duo Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael are all on trial for murder in the case, and Sharpton was in the courtroom watching the proceedings on Wednesday at the invitation of Arbery’s parents.
Gough complained Thursday to the judge as the jurors were on lunch break, “There’s only so many pastors they can have,” referring to the family inviting Sharpton. “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here, or any Jesse Jackson or whoever was in here earlier this week,” he added.
TMZ caught up with the civil rights figure following Gough’s controversial comments.
When asked about his thoughts on Gough’s statements, Sharpton said, “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.”
He added, “Now you have not only taken their son, you want to take away those of us who would come and console them. Now clearly … it was directed at me, because how do they know the difference between a Black pastor or not?”
Instead Sharpton invited “CLERGY ACROSS ECUMENICAL LINES” to meet him outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Thursday, Nov. 18, at noon or lunch break in the wake of Gough’s comments.
Walmsley warned Gough that he would not approve of banning the activist or anyone for that matter, citing, “The fact that nobody even noticed that [Sharpton] was in here means that everybody complied with this court’s rulings. I’m not going to blanketly exclude members of the public.”
Gough failed to find supporters to back his intimidation conspiracy either. Defense attorney Jason Sheffield, who represents the younger McMichael, told reporters that he acknowledged Sharpton’s presence but said the attorney was “not a distraction.”
By Friday, one week after the trial got underway, Gough was backtracking after the backlash his remarks had caused, addressing the court before the day’s proceedings began by saying, “My apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended.”
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