"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," attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William Bryan Jr., said in court on Thursday (November 11) right after the lunch break.
"Could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury," he added.
In his remarks, Gough called out Rev. Al Sharpton who was seated with Arbery's family in court on Wednesday (November 10) and led a prayer vigil outside the Glynn County, Georgia courthouse. Gough also name–dropped Rev. Jesse Jackson who has not been in attendance at the trial.
"We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family trying to influence a jury in this case," Gough said.
Prominent pastor and activist Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II was in court earlier this week and said he's calling on additional pastors and ministers to attend court in the coming days.
"He can say whatever he wants to," Barber told CNN referring to Gough's comments. "He has to understand, for me, I'm not a minister; I am a pastor first. I pastor people. I've had to go to families when they've had people killed and I sit in courtrooms."
Rev. Barber added that Gough isn't intimidated by Black pastors' presence, but of the truth.
"This is ultimately about the truth and to suggest that we are the intimidating ones when this case is about white men who were riding around with guns ... shooting an unarmed Black man ... it just shows how disjointed this case is," Barber continued. "Truth is intimidating for people who want to run a lie.
Race has been a central role to the case and court proceedings which began weeks ago with a slow and discriminatory jury selection process.
Judge Timothy Walmsley admitted that the defense seemed to discriminate in the jury selection process but still allowed the trial to move forward. At the end of the process, only one Black juror was seated on the panel.
Gough also complained that "Bubbas" or un-college educated white men were missing from the jury panel.
Ultimately, Walmsley ruled that the court is a public courtroom and that members of the community are allowed as long as there aren't any distractions during proceedings.
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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