Metro Detroit pastors to gather with clergy at Arbery trial in Georgia

Hundreds of pastors from across the country, including eight Metro Detroit ministers, are expected to gather outside the Georgia courthouse on Thursday as the trial of Ahmaud Arbery continues in Georgia to show solidarity with his family.

“As black pastors, we are in solidarity with this family and want to let them know that we pray for them and want to be a source of encouragement during this difficult time,” said Rev. Maurice Rudds, of the Greater Mount. directs Tabor Baptist Church in Detroit.

“I just pray that everyone will see our presence there as a confirmation of what black pastors have been doing for most of our time here in America.”

The event will be chaired by civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network.

He supported the family of Arbery, an African American who was fatally shot and killed in February 2020. Three white men were charged in connection with his death.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael got armed and chased the 25-year-old in a pickup truck after seeing him running in their neighborhood, prosecutors said. Her neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, allegedly joined the chase and recorded a cell phone video of the shooting. Arbery was shot three times with a shotgun.

A judge denied miscarriage on Monday after defense lawyers alleged the jury was tainted by crying from the gallery where Arbery’s parents sat with Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough, a lawyer for Bryan, also complained last week when Sharpton joined Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones and father, Marcus Arbery Sr. in the Glynn County courtroom. Gough told the judge, “We don’t want any more black pastors coming here.”

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, pastor of the Greater Grace Temple, speaks to ward members who attended a Walk The Vote event in Detroit.

Bishop Charles Ellis III. of the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, which is attending Thursday’s event, called the comment “one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever heard. If someone is in trouble, help should come. If this isn’t a family in trouble, then I don’t know what trouble is. “

Ellis, Rudds, and six others from the area will be flying to Georgia early Thursday to take part in the movement.

“Pastors are closely related because if we allow a pastor to be kicked out of a courtroom per se, it sets a bad precedent,” said Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of Detroit’s Historic King Solomon Baptist Church, who presides over it the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network and help coordinate the event. “It’s also of no real use to us to allow something like that, or to allow an appropriate response to take place.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony condemned the incident.

“Since when has it been illegal for black pastors to be in the courtroom?” Said Anthony, who did not expect to join the pastors at the event. “As a Black Pastor, I stood in court several times at the request of family members and sometimes out of interest in a particular question of justice. I have never heard of a concern about white pastors sitting in courtrooms involving family members or friends who may or may not have asked for their presence. “

Detroit NAACP President and longtime activist Rev. Dr.  Wendell Anthony at the Fellowship Chapel in Detroit on June 26, 2020.

Ellis said the support is important.

“I can hope that when we are there we can ease their burden and help them feel better during this time of uncertainty,” he said.

The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar after security cameras shot him multiple times in a house under construction five houses away. Defense says Travis McMichael opened fire in self-defense.

Rudds said he believed there was a “double standard” in such cases. He stated that the Arbery trial is being held concurrently with the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, who faces life imprisonment for being charged with the gravest charges of killing two men and wounding a third during a night of protests against racial injustice will be sentenced in Kenosha the summer of 2020.

Although the former police youth cadet is white and those he shot are white, the case has become a focal point in the US debate over guns, protests against racial justice, vigilance and law and order.

“What I don’t like about the cases overall is that when Caucasian Americans are involved in such a legal battle, they are deemed innocent until proven guilty. But when African Americans are in these scenarios, they seem guilty until proven innocent, ”said Rudds.

Williams described his delegation’s trip as preparation for the judgments in the cases.

“We need to come back here and show leadership to a community that could be seriously disturbed by these two cases,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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