You would think someone working to convince a jury his client didn’t help form a white supremacist mob and murder a Black man would avoid trying to outright ban Black people from the trial. You would think the last person that attorney would try to ban would be a noted civil rights leader and minister like Al Sharpton. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. “We don’t want any more Black pastors in here,” attorney Kevin Gough actually said in court on Thursday. He spoke as if he were making some kind of compromise after granting himself the power to allow Sharpton’s presence.
Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, who—along with former cop Gregory McMichael and his son Travis—are accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020 after spotting him running near the site of a home under construction in Brunswick, Georgia. The case, in which a prosecutor is indicted for alleged misconduct, has prompted so much outrage in Georgia and beyond that although some 1,000 potential jurors were summoned, attorneys had a hard time seating 12 people who didn’t openly communicate a bias during voir dire. Only one of them is Black, and social media users have frequently spread a running-while-Black hashtag denoting the popular belief that Arbery was only targeted because he was a Black man. This is the context in which Gough felt it appropriate to target Sharpton.
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