Al Sharpton shows support for Arbery family, criticizes jury makeup

Crime & Safety

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton joined the parents of Ahmaud Arbery in court Wednesday to show his support in their pursuit of justice.

Father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, along with their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, are on trial facing murder charges for chasing and shooting Arbery as he ran in their neighborhood.

Defense attorneys say the McMichaels and Bryan were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest, thinking Arbery was a burglar.

The 2020 death of the young Black man linked to the three white men led to calls of racial injustice after the release of explosive cellphone video of the shooting two months after the incident.

“Not only are those three on trial, Georgia law is on trial,” said Sharpton.

During the lunch break of the trial’s fourth day, Sharpton joined the Arbery family and local activists in a prayer vigil.

“I didn’t understand why God had placed this assignment on me,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother. “But that being said…God will never fail you.”

Sharpton described Arbery’s killing as a “lynching in the 21st century.”

He called the almost all-white jury picked for the murder trial “an insult to the intelligence of the American people.”

Only one juror of the 12 is Black.

photo: WSAV photographer Art Ottimo

“Despite the fact this country was able to grow to the point of electing and reelecting a Black president, grow to the point of electing now a Black woman vice president, you still can’t jog through Brunswick, Georgia, without being shot down,” Sharpton said.

“Ahmaud was my baby,” Cooper-Jones said. “He was chased, killed and robbed of his life.”

The parents of Jamal Sutherland also spoke at the event. Sutherland was a mentally ill Black man who died while in custody in Charleston, South Carolina.

The couple says they traveled from Charleston to show support to a family “going through the same thing we are going through.”

Despite the single Black juror, Abery family attorney Ben Crump says he’s confident they can come to a fair decision based on the evidence presented.

“What happens here in Brunswick, Georgia, in the trial of the killers of Ahmad Arbery, is going to be a proclamation not only to Georgia, not only to America, but to the world how far we have come to get equal justice in America for marginalized Black people,” said Crump.

Supporters of the Arbery family say they are fighting for equality for every person in America.

“A more just America, where Ahmaud Arbery and people who look like Ahmaud Arbery can run free and not be lynched for driving while Black,” Crump added.

Wednesday, the jury heard from a man who called police just a short time before the shooting t to report Arbery was outside of a house under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

Matthew Albenze said minutes after he called the police non-emergency number, he heard gunshots. When he went to investigate, Albenze said he saw Arbery’s body in the middle of the road.

Albenze was the first witness who is not a police officer to testify in the murder trial.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said the court will carry on as normal Thursday, Veteran’s Day, due to the slow pace of the trial so far.

Watch the murder trial live Thursday morning at Follow @brianmrea on Twitter for regular updates.

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