Kevin Gough, a defense attorney for one of the three white men charged in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, has sparked outrage after asking the court to limit the number of Black pastors who can sit with the Arbery family.
Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, who, along with father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, is charged with murder and other crimes in Arbery’s Feb. 23, 2020, killing. The 25-year-old Black man was chased and fatally shot after the defendants spotted him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick.
Gough brought up the presence of Rev. Al Sharpton in the courtroom to the judge. Sharpton had attended the trial on Wednesday and conducted a prayer vigil with Arbery’s parents outside the courthouse, he said on his official Twitter account.
Gough told Judge Timothy Walmsley that he doesn’t want “any more Black pastors” in the courtroom. “We want to keep politics out of this case.” He suggested the presence of figures like Sharpton “could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury.”
“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.
“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,” Sharpton said.
He said his attendance was “not disruptive in any way” and was “at the invitation of the family.”
Judge Walmsley told Gough he was “not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom.”