(New York, NY) — On November 11th, during the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, William “Roddie” Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough spoke to the judge and voiced his objections to the presence of civil rights leaders like Reverend Al Sharpton in the courtroom as “intimidation”. Reverend Sharpton attended the trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021, and conduct[ed] a prayer vigil with his parents outside of the courthouse. Following these claims of intimidation, Reverend Al Sharpton released the following statement:
“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 of spiritual and community support. 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. 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? 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. I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”
The judge presiding over the case, Judge Timothy Walmsley, stated that he will not be making any blanket rules over the attendance of the public in the courtroom and that Reverend Sharpton’s presence was not a distraction to the proceedings.
Background: On Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020 Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man, was chased by three armed white men in a South Georgia neighborhood and killed.
National Action Network has stood by the family in their pursuit of justice and decried the selection of a mostly white jury that consists of 11 white women, three white men and one Black man in a county that is predominantly Black. The judge noted the appearance of “intentional discrimination” in jury selection but said the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing would proceed.
National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality. For more information, visitwww.nationalactionnetwork.net