Weeping Time Coalition, Attorney Kevin Gough discuss lawsuit against City of Savannah

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Attorney Kevin Gough speaks-out for the first time on-camera since we found out he’s taking-on a controversial lawsuit in Savannah.

Notably, Gough just represented William “Roddie” Bryan in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. Bryan and two others were found guilty of murdering Arbery. During the trial, the judge denied Gough’s request to stop any more black pastors from coming into the courtroom. Gough made this comment the day after Rev. Al Sharpton was in the courtroom.

Now, he’s joining the Weeping Time Coalition, which is led by black pastors, in suing the City of Savannah, after the City gave the Salvation Army the green light to build a homeless shelter, in West Savannah.

The group continues to claim that the land is the site of the Weeping Time Slave Auction. But, as we’ve reported, the City paid for an archeological study of the land.

That study found it is not the site of the Weeping Time. It concluded that the actual site is just south of there where a lumberyard now sits.

Still, the group is suing the entire city council. They say top city officials were biased, and just wanted to push this development through.

“You would think that the mayor and the city council in Savannah would want to protect this property. We protect all kinds of things in Savannah of questionable historic value. We even invite tourists here to go on ghost tours, and all kinds of other things with little substance to them. Meanwhile, the most important historical site in the city is basically being given away,” Gough said.

Gough says his next step is meeting with Savannah’s City Attorney and reaching-out to the Superior Court of Chatham County. He’s hoping to get a hearing scheduled.

Mayor Van Johnson responded to the lawsuit at his weekly news conference.

“We’ll go to court and see where it leads. The city is not afraid to defend its position or its actions. I do find it laughable that the attorney representing them is the same attorney that represented in the Arbery case, and didn’t want black preachers in the courtroom... you can’t make this stuff up,” Mayor Johnson said.

The coalition tells WTOC they hired Gough, back in September before he made national headlines for the racial comments he made during the Arbery trial. They say he’s spent his career defending disadvantaged people and that they stand by his record.

The coalition told WTOC -they have taken on some criticism, for hiring Gough right after he defended one of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers. We spoke to one local community organizer about this.

She told us while she supports the Weeping Time Coalition, this move upsets her.

“If the judge had not of stopped him, he would have said even more racial things. So, why would you allow this white man - who has these racist thoughts in his mind about African American people - to represent the Weeping Time? It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said community organizer and activist Marilyn Jackson.

It’s important to note during this whole debate, the property has been federally owned - meaning the city’s only role was to approve the homeless shelter.

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