Lee Heidhues 11.15.2021
An American tragedy played out in a Brunswick, Georgia courtroom.
The attorney for one of the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery demanded civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson be removed from the courtroom.
This racist demand is all too symptomatic of the white privilige still felt in America when it comes to attitudes towards black people.
The Civil War ended over 156 years ago. The attitudes which were responsible for the four year war between 1861-1865 have not diminished.
The Judge thankfully was having none of it.
The Guardian 11.15.2021
A judge has denied mistrial requests at the trial of three white men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery after defense attorneys claimed jurors were tainted by weeping from the gallery where Arbery’s parents sat with the Rev Jesse Jackson.
Monday morning’s testimony was interrupted by arguments in the jury’s absence over Jackson’s appearance. The judge said he found one defense lawyer’s complaints last week about Black pastors to be “reprehensible” and no group would be excluded from his courtroom.
Greg and Travis McMichael, a father and son, armed themselves and pursued the Black 25-year-old in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood on 23 February 2020. Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun.
Tensions flared in the courtroom on Monday morning soon after Jackson sat in the back row of the courtroom between Arbery’s parents. The defense attorney Kevin Gough asked the judge to make the civil rights leader leave to avoid unfairly influencing the jury.
Gough, an attorney for William Bryan, also complained last week when the Rev Al Sharpton joined Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, and father, Marcus Arbery Sr, inside the Glynn county courtroom. Gough told the judge on Thursday: “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”
“There is no reason for these prominent icons in the civil rights movement to be here,” Gough said Monday. “With all due respect, I would suggest, whether intended or not, that inevitably a juror is going to be influenced by their presence in the courtroom.”
The superior court judge, Timothy Walmsley, declined the request. Courtrooms are generally open to the public, although the judge has limited seating in the public gallery because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The court is not going to single out any particular individual or group of individuals as not being allowed into his courtroom as a member of the public,” Walmsley said. “If there is a disruption, you’re welcome to call that to my attention.”
Jackson told reporters outside the courthouse that he had come to coastal Brunswick to support justice for Arbery’s family, not in response to the attorney’s previous remarks about Black pastors.
“As the judge said, it was my constitutional right to be there,” Jackson said. “It’s my moral obligation to be there.”