“What has happened in this case, is a lynching in the 21st century,” Sharpton said as he led a prayer vigil outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Wednesday.
He said the country has seen some positive milestones for the Black community, like electing former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris but “you still can’t jog through Brunswick, Georgia, without being shot down, like you are a suspect, only because of the color of your skin.”
Sharpton joined Arbery’s parents and held their hands to pray together during a break in the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.
The three men are accused of chasing and killing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, on February 23, 2020, near Brunswick, Georgia. Their legal team has argued that they were protecting themselves against Arbery and attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.
“In order to have a defense, you have to have an offense. And what was Ahmaud’s offense? There was no robbery. There was no weapon. So what are you defending yourself against?” Sharpton asked on Wednesday.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she was grateful for Sharpton’s support.
“In the very beginning, after we laid Ahmaud to rest, it was very hard because we couldn’t find any help. The local authorities, they wouldn’t give us any answers and we went for weeks trying to find out what happened to Ahmaud,” Cooper-Jones said.
“As we stand before this courthouse, I thought this day would never come… that we will be standing here with Mr. Al Sharpton.”
Before the group walked back inside the courthouse as the trial resumed, Ben Crump, who is representing Arbery’s family, said there are high expectations for the case’s outcome.
“What happens here in Brunswick, Georgia, in the trial in the killers of Ahmaud 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,” Crump said.