GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived in court on Monday with Ahmaud Arbery's mother, coming on the heels last week of comments by one of the defense attorneys that he didn't want "any more Black pastors" to show up while referencing Jackson by name.
Following the backlash to those comments by Kevin Gough, the attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who worked on the George Floyd trial, vowed to "bring 100 Black pastors to pray with the family next week."
"It is not illegal for Black pastors to support the parents of Ahmaud Arbery or any other Black victims. We are going to bring 100 Black pastors to pray with the family next week," Crump had tweeted.
On Monday, 11Alive sister station First Coast news reported Jackson had arrived outside the courtroom just before 10 a.m. Feeds from inside court showed him entering court with Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, just before the first break of the morning.
Last week, Gough had objected to Al Sharpton's presence in court.
"The idea that we're gonna be serially bringing these people in to sit with the victim's family one after another, obviously there's only so many pastors they can have," he said. "And if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that's fine, but then that's it - we don't want any more Black pastors coming in here... Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week sitting with the victim's family trying to influence the jury in this case."
Judge Timothy Walmsley was not receptive of Gough's argument last week.
He cut Gough off as he presented a hypothetical scenario about people coming into the court "dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks" by saying, "I don't need to hear that."
The judge then said he was told on Wednesday that Sharpton would sit with the family in lieu of one of the other family members, and he said that it was fine with him "as long as things are not disruptive and it's not a distraction to the jury or anything else going on in the courtroom."
Gough raised another objection on Monday, asking the judge to "keep track" of people coming into the courtroom. Walmsley denied the request.
Gough then again brought up Jackson's presence after another break, and an exasperated Judge Walmsley said: "Mr. Gough at this point I'm not exactly sure what you're doing."
"I have already ruled on this court’s position with regard to the gallery, and with all candor I was not even aware that Rev. Jackson was in the courtroom until you started your motion," the judge said. "I have indicated the court's position, the position hasn’t changed. 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, and I find that objectionable."
After telling Gough his ruling was "unchanged," the attorney began to speak in response.
"I'm done talking about it Mr. Gough," he said. "I'm telling you that the court's position has remained the court's position - unless anyone in the gallery is disruptive or here to cause some demonstration that would distract from the presentation of evidence in this case, this 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.
"That is consistent with my prior ruling and will remain my ruling."
After testimony from a neighbor of Arbery's, defense lawyers moved for a mistrial following a Arbery's mother weeping in the gallery.
After lengthy debate, including more objections from Gough to Jackson's presence, Judge Walmsley denied the motion.