Ahmaud Arbery trial: Lawyer claims Al Sharpton is 'intimidating' jury, wants him out

Kevin Gough says the presence of Rev Al Sharpton will 'influence' all-White jury, tells judge 'We don't want any more Black pastors'


                            Ahmaud Arbery trial: Lawyer claims Al Sharpton is 'intimidating' jury, wants him out
Attorney Kevin Gough (Twitter) and Rev. Al Sharpton (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
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The Kyle Rittenhouse trial may be grabbing all the media attention, but miles away in Georgia, another key case is currently taking place. On November 11, the trial of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery took a dramatic twist, after a defense attorney asked the judge to stop Black pastors from coming to the courtroom. He argued the presence of Rev Al Sharpton was "influencing" the all-white jury, but failed to convince the judge, who quickly shut him down.

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Following the brutal killing of the Black man, which was captured on film, the father and son duo of Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael was arrested, along with their neighbor William Bryan Jr. The case was already extremely controversial for the late arrest of the trio, and the fact that there is only 1 Black juror, leading many to protest that it wasn't a fair one. 

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Nonetheless, the trial went ahead and claims of racism have sneaked back in thanks to Defense attorney Kevin Gough. On November 11, Gough attempted to have the Sharpton removed, but failed. Instead, he ended up getting strongly reprimanded by Judge Timothy Walmsley, who responded, "I am not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom."

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'Want to keep politics out of the case'

It's unclear what prompted Gough's request, even before the trial began, Sharpton has been a strong advocate for the Arbery family andhas spoken about the case extensively to the press. On November 10, he joined the family in the courtroom in the Glynn County courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, where the case is being heard. In response, Gough told the judge the next day, "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... or influence the jury."

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He then added, "There's only so many pastors they can have. If their pastor is Al Sharpton right now that's fine. But that's it. We don't want any more black pastors in here." Gough, who is representing Bryan Jr. then defended his request saying, "I think people can understand my concern about bringing people in who don't have any ties to this case apart from political interests. We want to keep politics out of this case."

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Before he could go on though, the judge intervened and shot down the request. He also noted, "From what I hear is that nobody was even aware that he (Sharpton) was in here." The Reverand had his own take on the matter, telling TMZ outside the court later, "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." He also called the request "insulting" to the Arbery family.

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'He should be disbarred for this KKK shit'

The moment quickly went viral on social media and users were quick to slam Gough. "A defense attorney named Kevin Gough who represents racists who murdered Ahmaud Arbery objected to Reverend Al Sharpton’s presence in the courtroom today, saying he doesn’t want any more black pastors in the court because it intimidates. He should be disbarred for this KKK shit," one person tweeted. Another echoed that sentiment, tweeting, "Attorney Kevin Gough is obviously a racist piece of shit just like the murderers he’s defending. He should be disbarred." One user commented, "Kevin Gough, defense attorney was speaking about @TheRevAl. The racism just reverberates off the walls, unreal."

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"Racist defense attorney Kevin Gough said is out loud for the world to hear. Wonder if he will request separate drinking fountains next?" one furious user asked. A Georgia State Representative tweeted, "Bryan’s Attorney Kevin Gough said” we don’t need any more black pastors here”…… I am offended and pissed off at the same time! Like you can’t be serious man!"

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Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones also weighed in on Gough's request, telling reporters, "I don't think that anything can sway the jury. I think if the jury takes the evidence that is presented that we will get justice for Ahmaud." Ther request, along with the jury selection, has made the trial a major flashpoint for Black activists. Glynn County is reportedly 27% Black, so many are furious the trial could only find one Black juror. 

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