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Jacksonville pastor responds to attorney's request to ban Black pastors in death of Ahmaud Arbery trial

Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. of The Bethel Church says "we don't give authority to anybody's wishes about what we do as clergy."

Clergymen will gather outside of the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick on Thursday to support the family of Ahmaud Arbery.

Local pastors say more than 400 clergymen will attend the demonstration during trial for the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. says the pastors will be there to pray for the Arbery family and will not go inside of the courthouse.

"We’re going to Brunswick as a collective body of clergy to pray with the family, to be in support of the family," McKissick said. "A lawyer said that Black pastors weren’t welcomed there. That’s egregious but that’s not our purpose for being there."

Reverend Al Sharpton, Pastor Jamal Bryant and Attorney Ben Crump are among those faith leaders who will be present.

Bishop McKissick Jr. says the nation's eyes are on the trial but he says the clergy's heart is with the city. He says he hopes their presence demonstrates this.

Bishop McKissick Jr. said defense attorney Kevin Gough's requests for black pastors to not show up will not stop them from being present.

"At no point will we give authority to anybody’s wishes about what we do as clergy or as people," McKissick said. "As egregious as that was, the fact of the matter is. We aren’t coming there to be in the courtroom so what he said doesn’t apply to us."

At 3 p.m. Thursday, there will be a Justice for Ahmaud march in Brunswick with a National Tele-Town Hall at 8 p.m. Both events are hosted by the Transformative Justice Coalition.


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