Speed Reads

he said what?!

Defense attorney in Arbery case tells judge 'we don't want any more Black pastors coming in here'

Kevin Gough, the attorney for one of the men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, said in a Georgia courtroom on Thursday that "we don't want any more Black pastors" coming to sit with the Arbery family during the trial.

Three white men — father and son George and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. — stand accused of racially profiling Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, and have been charged with murder, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault. Gough, who represents Bryan, objected Thursday to Rev. Al Sharpton joining Arbery's parents in the courtroom on Wednesday.

"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," Gough said. "Could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury." 

Gough said he had "nothing personally against" Sharpton, but "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." Jackson has not been seen at the courthouse since the start of the trial, CNN reports, and Sharpton said in a statement that Gough showed "arrogant insensitivity" with his remarks. Gough's motion also didn't work on Judge Timothy Walmsley, who said he will not "blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom."

This isn't the first time Gough's remarks have raised eyebrows — during the jury selection phase, the lawyer said he was worried that there weren't enough white men of a certain age and background to choose from. "It would appear that white males born in the South, over 40 years old, without four-year degrees, sometimes euphemistically known as 'Bubba' or 'Joe Six Pack,' seem to be significantly underrepresented," he said. "We have a problem with that."