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Defense wants court to limit view of 'I support Black pastors' slogan in death of Ahmaud Arbery trial

Kevin Gough pointed to the slogan "I support Black pastors" seen on T-shirts. He asked the judge to limit the jurors' view of the slogan.
Credit: AP
William "Roddie" Bryan, center, sits next to his attorney Kevin Gough, left, during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It's a movement gaining traction during the trial surrounding the death of Ahmaud Arbery: "I support Black pastors."

Now defense lawyers for the three white men facing murder charges in Arbery's death are doing their best to make sure jurors don't catch wind of it.

Attorney Kevin Gough, who is representing William "Roddie" Bryan, once again asked the judge to limit certain visitors on Thursday that could influence or intimidate jurors. 

Bryan recorded the video showing the final moments of Arbery's life. Travis McMichael, the man accused of firing the fatal shot and his father Gregory McMichael are also standing trial.

On Thursday, Gough went as far as to ask the judge to exclude Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton from the public gallery in the courtroom unless they can prove they're pastors of the Arbery family. Gough has brought up the issue of "intimidating" visitors each day this week.

Jackson started sitting with the Arbery family this week after Gough previously fussed over Sharpton's presence in the courtroom. 

Bryan's attorney garnered national attention last week for mentioning the presence of Black pastors in the courtroom during the trial, even going as far as calling their presence intimidating and 'mob-like.'

Judge Timothy Walmsley sternly shot down Gough's request before the jury was welcomed inside the courtroom. 

However, after hours of testimony and following a brief 15 minutes recess, Gough said he needed to escalate his concern before proceeding with Travis McMichael's testimony. 

This time, Gough pointed to the slogan "I support Black pastors" seen on T-shirts. He asked the judge to limit the jurors' view of the slogan, saying it directly supports the conviction of the McMichaels and his client Bryan.

There are limits on what people can wear in the courtroom such as no buttons, face masks that are not for COVID purposes, and an order in place that governs seating in the courtroom and in the overflow room. On Wednesday, Judge Walmsley said the court put those restrictions during the trial to help maintain the integrity of the proceedings.

Now, Gough wanted the judge to add that slogan to the list and to consider the crowd outside of the courthouse.

That crowd has grown through the morning, with over 100 people outside the Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick for a "wall of prayer" rally. The rally is being touted by a number of notable faith leaders, including Atlanta's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Jamal Bryant and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Other notable members expected to join the rally include Jackson and Martin Luther King III, son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The judge said he would take these concerns into consideration.


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