BRUNSWICK, Ga. (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — Defense lawyers did not want him there, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson was in court Monday for the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.
Jackson sat with Arbery’s mother in court during the trial in Brunswick, Georgia.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Shot, Wounded In Calumet Heights
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, who are white, armed themselves and pursued Arbery, a 25-year-old Black, man in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020.
Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and told police he ran Arbery off the road with his own truck before taking cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting him three times with a shotgun.
In court Tuesday, a defense lawyer tried to have Jackson removed. The same defense lawyer complained last week when the Rev. Al Sharpton joined Arbery’s mother and father inside the Glynn County courtroom. Attorney Kevin Gough said he feared Sharpton was trying to influence the jury, telling the judge “we don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Abel Osundairo, One Of Two Brothers Who Said He Was Paid To Help Stage Attack, Says Smollett 'Wanted Me To Fake Beat Him Up'
Gough renewed his concern Monday when Jackson sat in the back of the courtroom gallery between Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, and father, Marcus Arbery Sr. The civil rights leader wore a mask, but at one point pulled it down beneath his chin while speaking with Cooper-Jones.
“In the context of this trial, we object to his presence in the public gallery,” Gough told the judge while the jury was outside the courtroom. “How many pastors does the Arbery family have? We had the Rev. Al Sharpton last week.”
He added: “There is no reason for these prominent icons in the civil rights movement to be here. 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.”
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley declined to ask Jackson to leave. 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.”MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Partly Cloudy And Breezy Overnight
Sharpton, who held the hands of Arbery’s parents while leading a prayer for justice last week, has criticized the disproportionately white makeup of the jury. Sharpton said last week his attendance was “not disruptive in any way” and was “at the invitation of the family.”