BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Attorneys for the three men accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery asked the judge presiding over the trial to limit the signs and Justice for rallies outside the courthouse, arguing that it will influence potential jurors.
When court reconvened after lunch Thursday, “Roddie” Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley that he’s concerned about signs, banners and demonstrations in front of the courthouse in support of Arbery’s family.
Gough complained of a banner near the courthouse steps includes a photo of deceased Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis that appeared to be advocating for voting rights. He also said a young girl had been riding a tricycle in front of the courthouse this week with a sign saying “Justice for Ahmaud” on her back.
Gough asked Walmsley “To prohibit any signs openly advocating for ‘Justice for Ahmaud Arbery’ on the grounds of the Glynn County courthouse.”
Travis McMichael’s attorney Robert Rubin added: “We are concerned with any conscious or unconscious attempt to influence any jurors.”
Walmsley noted the courthouse grounds as a public space. He suggested the objecting defense attorneys draft a legal motion “walking me through the First Amendment rights you seek to infringe upon and how you intend to do this.”
Gough said: “The due process rights of our clients in this context outweigh the First Amendment rights of those who want to see our clients convicted.”
“We not doing nothing out here to hurt nobody,” said Ahmaud Arbery’s aunt, Ruby Arbery. “Everything we doing out here is for justice, peace, love and support.”
The Transformative Justice Coalition, whose sign features that image of Lewis, said they aren’t going anywhere. They feel they aren’t influencing potential jurors but say they are fighting for justice and supporting Ahmaud Arbery’s family.
“In a case like this, the Arbery family needs support,” said Betty Magnus of Transformative Justice Coalition/Rainbow Push Coalition. “They cannot feel like they have been abandoned or they are alone by our community, so it’s our responsibility to come out and support them.”
The group has been singing songs, chanting and praying since jury selection began on Monday.
“They’re not doing nothing wrong. They are supporting the Arbery family“The way my nephew was killed out there, that was senseless. And if they feel like it’s right, then it’s something wrong with them because if they had a child that got killed like that then they’ll see why we are all out here doing what we’re doing.”
“They don’t want you to have power. They’re scared,” Ruby Arbery said, saying the voting rights banner represents what they are fighting for. “They are trying to take our rights from us. They are trying to do everything in their power to get power over us, but this is not what it’s about. We are trying to get justice.”