By: Carol Ozemhoya|Across Black America
A request by an attorney for one of the White men standing trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery that the Rev. Jesse Jackson be removed from the courtroom was denied Monday, reports NBC BLK. The lawyer, Kevin Gough, represents William “Roddie” Bryan who, along with father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael is charged with murder and other crimes in Arbery’s killing in February 2020.
“He is, your honor, I think we all know, an icon in the civil rights movement,” Gough told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, adding that Jackson was “not just a witness to it, but the personification of it.”
The jury was not in the courtroom when he delivered his remarks.
“And in other circumstances, I think everybody would be happy to have their picture taken, maybe get an autograph, but in the context of this trial, we object to his presence in the public gallery inside the courtroom,” Gough said.
Jackson was sitting in the back of the courtroom with Arbery’s parents.
“The issue tht I brought up previously is how many pastors does the Arbery family have?” Gough said. “We had the Rev. Al Sharpton here earlier, last week.”
Jackson could be seen in the back of the court wearing a blue mask below his nose and mouth while Gough was speaking.
“I don’t know who Mr. Rev. Jackson is pastoring here,” Gough said.
He said Jackson’s presence could have an impact on the jury and on the proceedings.
“I guess the next question is which pastor is next?” Gough said. “Is Raphael Warnock going to be the next person appearing this afternoon? We don’t know.”
Warnock is a pastor in Georgia and one of the state’s senators.
He told Walmsley the seats in the public gallery of a courtroom “are not like courtside seats to a Lakers game.”
“There is no reason for these prominent icons in the civil rights movement to be here,” Gough said.
Walmsley denied his request, saying the court’s position had not changed.
“With all candor, I was not even aware the Rev. Jackson was in the courtroom until you started your motion,” Walmsley said. “At this point, it’s almost as if you’re trying to continue this for purposes other than just bringing it to the court’s attention. I find that objectionable from the court’s standpoint.”
He added: “I’m done talking about it, Mr. Gough.”
“The court is not going to single out any particular individual or group of individuals as not being allowed to be in this courtroom as a member of the public,” Walmsley said. “If there is a disruption, you’re more than welcome to call that to my attention.”