Crowds gather outside the courthouse to support Arbery family during trial

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:35 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 4:02 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - There’s been a huge crowd outside the courthouse Thursday as the trial of three men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery continues.

Some say they are here to make sure the family feels supported. Some came out to pray and others want accountability. But the main message people are trying to send are from Black pastors. Rev. Al Sharpton says he will be with the family all the way to the end regardless of the defense’s attempts to shut out Black pastors from the courtroom.

“I didn’t come in the courtroom to protest I came to pray. That they would have the strength to stand up. Now I do protest, but I came as a minister. And this man, the next day defiled me for coming,” Rev. Sharpton said.

Re. Sharpton says you can’t imagine the pain of a mother sitting in court having to stare at the men charged with killing her son. That’s why many of these people out here showed up to call for justice and let the defense know they can come together in support of the family. I’ve talked to students, pastors and people who traveled hours just to be here for what they say is “history in the making.”

Arbery’s mother shared her reaction to Thursday’s planned events.

“I’m grateful. My family and I are very grateful that these pastors are coming in to lend support, because support is what we need,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said.

“We gonna keep praying because we know it’s a God and he’s good. Look how God brought all these people together. That’s why justice will roll down out the mountain. Justice will roll down. Ahmaud will get justice,” Ahmaud’s father Marcus Arbery Sr. said.

“To all the pastors who traveled near and far just to be with us in this very difficult, difficult time, God is good,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said.

The crowds remained after court wrapped up. Arbery’s mother says her heart is full of joy at the support even though it’s broken from the loss of her son.

A lot of the pastors out there Thursday said the attempts to exclude clergy will not be successful. There were about 20 Black pastors from Savannah outside the courtroom.

Reverend Thurmond from St. Paul CME Church in Savannah said the Arbery family was worshipping with them just a few weeks ago and their support will not stop.

To be honest with you I think it’s a blatant attempt to impact the trial in a negative way. And to say that we are not an important part of the community that has the right just like every other American to witness justice as it is adjudicated is a horrible tactic to take for a defense attorney or for anyone to take in this nation,” said Reverend Thurmond.

About 16 students from Savannah State University showed up. They say they wanted to see the trial happening firsthand and witness history.

“My professors really been stressing how it’s gonna change our lives as a whole like the decisions in this case will change everyone’s life so let’s just say they get off with this.... what’s to say it won’t happen again and worst scenario them making the same kind of excuse ‘oh self-defense’ or citizens arrest or whatever,” said Kalil Akins, Savannah State University student.

The trial will resume Monday and many of the people out here, including Reverend Thurmond say they will be back until justice is served.

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