Mid-Michigan pastor Ezra Tillman Jr. joined pastors in Brunswick, Georgia to protest outside the courthouse where three men are being tried in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
“It was not to overshadow that there’s still a family that’s missing a son at their dinner table this Thanksgiving,” Tillman Jr. said.
The defendants say they thought he was a burglary suspect, and they were acting in self-defense. A comment by one of the defense attorneys lit a fire under Tillman Jr.
“We don’t want any more black pastors coming in here,” Kevin Gough said.
Gough requested high-profile clergy be removed from the courtroom, saying their presence could influence the jury.
“That type of language is spoken from a culture, from an attitude, and a supremist mindset that has pretty much shapen our country,” Tillman Jr. said.
More than 100 black pastors heard those words and responded immediately. They gathered in solidarity outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Thursday.
“We knew we had to respond,” Tillman Jr. said.
Tillman leads First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint and said when Attorney Gough made his comment he was called to go to Georgia.
“Not to be present while history is being made I think calls us to be responsible and be accountable, not just to be self-serving, but to be there because we represent someone else,” Tillman Jr. said.
Tillman said it was an act to support the Arbery family.
“To hear the mother, speak and to hear the pain of the father and to hear the sister express their feelings, it was a reminder than my five boys could easily be that same person,” Tillman Jr. said.
“We actually have to hope for justice to take place, versus knowing that if the facts are known that we will actually receive the proper sentence. Justice has a color, and it’s not for black people.”