Defense attorney tried to keep some Black pastors away from trial. 100+ showed up to support Ahmaud Arbery’s family.
More than 100 Black pastors, along with Jewish rabbis and other spiritual leaders, stood alongside the family of Ahmaud Arbery outside the Glynn County courthouse Thursday afternoon following repeated attempts by a defense attorney to have high-profile clergy removed from the courtroom.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William “Roddie” Bryan in the murder trial of three white men charged in Arbery’s killing, has made repeated attempts to exclude “high-profile members of the African American community” from the courtroom, saying their presence was “intimidating” the jury.
Gough’s words became a clarion call for Black clergy across the country to converge on Brunswick in a show of spiritual solidarity. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III and other prominent civil rights figures sat in the courtroom Thursday and gathered for a prayer vigil, press conference and march.
“We are here today to pray for this family to have strength,” Sharpton said. “We know the pain that they struggle. It’s the same pain that Emmett Till’s mother struggled. The same pain Trayvon Martin’s mother struggled. It’s a lonely pain. But I want them to have the comfort that people came all around the world.”
Sharpton added: “I’ve been to trials for 40 years with police involved, and they pack the courtroom with uniformed police and nobody ever said that’s intimidation. So if this lawyer sets a precedent with us, then he sets a precedent that we can judge whoever’s in a courtroom anywhere in the United States.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the clergy for their support.
“God will put people in your path to help you. You are the people for my family and I, and I want to say thank you,” Cooper-Jones said.
King said that he was trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
“While I’m not a preacher, there is a ministry that exists,” he said. “And part of that ministry is that whenever you see injustice, you must stand up. Dad used to say, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'”
King added: “It only brings a few good men to bring change. I saw that through the leadership of my father and then my mother many years after my father had been killed. We are going to keep coming back until justice is served for this family.”
Read the full article on USA Today.