Rev. Sharpton: ‘Dirty toenails’ comment about Arbery part of most racist case he’s ever witnessed

Rev. Al Sharpton, along with Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones and family attorneys, address the media during jury deliberations. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – As the jury continued deliberations in the trial for three men accused in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, family attorneys and Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the media and supporters of the Arbery family on Wednesday morning in front of the Glynn County Courthouse.

As they stood at a podium, Sharpton said the case has been one of the most racist court cases he’s ever witnessed.

“[Arbery’s parents] sat and heard some of the most racist statements made in a court of law that I’ve heard in the decades I’ve been out here,” the civil rights activist said. “I’ve sat in many courtrooms, I have never sat in a courtroom where the victim was akin to an animal, talking about dirty toenails like he was not even human, but an animal.”

FULL COVERAGE: Trial of men accused in death of Ahmaud Arbery

Sharpton was referencing comments made by defense attorney Laura Hogue, who is representing Gregory McMichael, during closing arguments.

“Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” Hogue told jurors.

After the comment by Hogue, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said “wow” and left the courtroom.

Sharpton even went on to question if the defense attorneys in the case have families.

MORE: Defense attorney in Arbery slaying trial tells judge: ‘We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here’

The defense attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael, who are charged with Arbery’s murder, repeatedly have tried to present Arbery as a criminal, though prosecutors have said there is no evidence Arbery committed a crime the day he was killed.

Attorney Ben Crump said he can’t imagine what went through the minds of Arbery’s parents hearing some of the comments made by the defense attorneys.

“As if Ahmaud is a runaway slave and that they had the right to chase him and capture him and the authority to even kill him,” Crump said.

RELATED: Prosecutor reads racist messages by Ahmaud Arbery’s killer

They said defense attorneys have been picking at the family in a way, complaining about Arbery’s mother who was crying in the courtroom.

The family, their attorneys and pastors said they have transitioned now to putting faith in the jury.

Family attorney Lee Merritt said he believes there’s more than enough evidence to convict the three men on all charges.

“We understand a verdict could come back today and there is more than enough evidence for them to come back with a verdict today but if it takes through the holiday if it takes through next week however long it takes we want them to get it right,” Merritt said.

Sharpton gave something he wants people to think about on Thanksgiving.

“I want you to look at your family table and look at how there will be one empty seat and Marcus and Wanda’s table and the empty seat is where Ahmaud would’ve sat. Ask yourself, have you heard any reason Ahmaud shouldn’t be at that table? That’s what everybody ought to think about over Thanksgiving,” Sharpton said.

News4Jax spoke with Ahmaud Arbery’s great aunt who said she is very optimistic and believes God didn’t bring her family this far to leave them. As of Wednesday afternoon, they were sitting outside the courthouse, anxiously waiting for this verdict that could come later in the day.


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