A defense attorney for one of the three White men charged in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's killing objected to nationally recognized civil rights leaders attending the trial to support the victim's family, reported CNN.
"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," attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., told the court following a lunch break. "Could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury."
In Georgia's majority White Glynn County, where the trial is taking place, race has played a central role in the case.
Last week, following a long and contentious jury selection process, Judge Timothy Walmsley said the defense had appeared to be discriminatory in selecting the jurors but allowed the case to go forward -- with only one Black member in the panel.
Just days prior, Gough had complained that older White men from the South without four-year college degrees, "euphemistically known as 'Bubba' or 'Joe Six Pack,'" seemed to be underrepresented in the pool of potential jurors that had turned up.
The Rev. Al Sharpton joined Arbery's parents Wednesday and led a prayer vigil outside the Glynn County Courthouse, asking for a just verdict in the case and calling Arbery's killing "a lynching in the 21st century."
Sharpton said that while the country has seen some positive milestones for the Black community, such as electing former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, "you still can't jog through Brunswick without being shot down, like you are a suspect, only because of the color of your skin."
The judge told Gough on Thursday that he was aware Sharpton would be inside, apparently taking the place of an Arbery family member, and that he did not have an objection as long as there were no disruptions.
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