Ahmud Arbery: More than 100 clerics gather outside court after lawyer complained about black priests

A large crowd of supporters and more than 100 priests gathered outside a Georgia court to support Ahmed Arbery’s family after the lawyer for one of the three white men accused of his murder made repeated attempts to keep black priests from trial.

Hundreds of people traveled to Glenn County Courthouse in Brunswick on Thursday for a prayer vigil and crowd outside the courtroom where Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Rudi” Bryan are currently on trial for the murder of 25-year-old Black.

Among the crowds were well-known civil rights icons and chaplains, including Martin Luther King III, Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Minister Jamal Bryant, as organizers pledged “solidarity” with Mr Arbery’s family.

“Today, I will join @TheRealAland hundreds of black pastors across ecumenical lines in Brunswick, Georgia, in a prayer pause to demand justice for #AhmaudArbery,” tweeted MLK III.

Black men are considered armed and dangerous without evidence and we must hold these men accountable for their actions. No American should be in danger of dying while jogging next door.”

The massive “prayer wall”, organized by the National Action Network, came in response to repeated comments from Kevin Gough, Mr. Brian’s attorney, who complained about black pastors joining the Arbery family in the public portico of the courtroom.

Last Thursday, Mr. Gove first complained about the presence of Reverend Sharpton in the courtroom and argued that the presence of “prominent members of the African American community” was “intimidating” and an attempt to “pressure or influence the jury”.

“We don’t want any more black pastors coming here,” he told the judge, and he also singled out Reverend Jackson, who was not at trial at the time.

Reverend Sharpton called the comments “ridiculous” and vowed to appear in court with 100 black chaplains, while Reverend Jackson responded by joining Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, in court.

Mr. Gove has filed complaints almost every day since then, including filing a failed application demanding the trial be set aside on Wednesday.

Travis McMichael wipes his tears as he witnesses how Ahmed Arbery was shot dead in court on Wednesday

(Getty Images)

On Thursday, he filed another motion requesting that Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jackson be banned from the courtroom and complained that he saw someone wearing a T-shirt that read “I support black pastors” inside the courthouse. The judge denied the request.

The lawyer admitted that he “missed” the number of times he complained about their presence.

Reverend Jackson entered the courtroom that morning and sat down with Mrs. Cooper-Jones.

The McMichaels family and Mr. Bryan are accused of stalking and shooting unarmed Mr. Arbery through the Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23, 2020.

The three white men face nine counts in Mr. Arbery’s death, including premeditated murder, four counts of felony, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and a criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

If convicted, each could face life imprisonment.

Travis McMichael told police he “couldn’t remember” whether Ahmaud Arbery caught the gun

Travis McMichael returned to the witness stand Thursday morning for questioning by the prosecution.

The 35-year-old, who fired the fatal shot that killed Mr Arbery, testified in court that he struggled to “remember every minute detail” of the shooting after the court revealed he had told police he “doesn’t remember” if the black man grabbed his gun before he… He shoots.

On Wednesday, Travis McMichael testified that Mr. Arbery attacked him and took his gun, causing him to fire his gun in a “life-or-death situation”.

“He had my gun. He shocked me. It was obvious he was attacking me, if he was going to get the gun from me, it was a life-or-death situation,” he said, wiping away his tears.

Prosecutor Linda Donikovsky noted inconsistencies in his version of events in court compared to what he told police officers in the hours after the shooting.

When questioned by the police whether Mr. Arbery ever grabbed the gun, Travis McMichael replied, “I want to say he did but I honestly don’t remember. I mean, he and I were face to face the whole time.”

Travis McMichael admitted that he did not tell the police that Mr. Arbery had grabbed his gun but claimed it was because he “mixed up” after the shooting because it was “the most traumatic event I’ve had in my life”.

Ahmaud Arbery was chased and shot by three white men in Georgia

(Marcus Abery via Reuters)

“I was trying to think about that exact moment, trying to give it as much detail as possible under the pressure of what’s going on,” he told the court.

“It was clear he had the gun from what I was saying, and he had the gun the way I describe it.”

“But he wasn’t in possession of the gun at that moment, I don’t know why. I wouldn’t say he did, but I honestly can’t remember.”

He added: “It happened very quickly and I obviously missed every minute detail.”

The public prosecutor questioned why he was “nervous” while questioning the police two hours after the shooting.

“I just killed a man. I’m still bloodied. It was the most traumatic event of my life. I was scared to death,” he said.

“I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t get scared or nervous or terrified or anything. I mean it was awful.”

Travis McMichael says Ahmaud Arbery was “just running” when he chased after him

Travis McMichael also testified that Mr. Arbery was “just running” when he first decided to chase him in his pickup truck and admitted that the black runner neither indicated he was armed nor threatened him.

The 35-year-old also admitted that he had not told Mr Arbery that he was planning to carry out a citizen’s arrest.

He also admitted that he did not tell the police that it was his intention and his father’s.

“He never reached into his pockets? He never yelled at you? He never threatened you? You never waved a weapon? Did you pull any pistol or knife? You didn’t reach for anything?” asked the prosecutor.

Travis McMichael said “no” to every question adding, “Yeah, he was just running.”

Alleged use of racial slurs

Before Travis McMichael took the stage Thursday morning, the prosecution and defense argued whether the state should be allowed to question him over his alleged use of racial sedition after he shot and killed Arbery.

A Georgia FBI investigator testified during a preliminary hearing that Mr. Brian told him that Travis McMichael called Mr. Arbery “undesirable” while standing over the black man’s body.

Rob Rubin, Travis McMichael’s attorney, argued that the defendant should not be questioned about the use of the term because “there is no admissible evidence for this adjective.”

Kevin Gough, a lawyer for Brian who allegedly overheard the 35-year-old use of the term, told the court that his client was not planning to testify in his defense.

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