Mid-Michigan pastor Ezra Tillman Jr. joined pastors in Brunswick, Georgia, to protest outside the courthouse where three men are on trial for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
“It wasn’t to obscure that there’s always a family missing a son at the Thanksgiving table,” Tillman Jr. said.
The defendants say they believed he was a burglary suspect and were acting in self-defense. A comment from one of the defense attorneys started a fire under Tillman Jr.
“We don’t want black pastors coming here anymore,” said Kevin Gough.
Gough demanded that high-level clergy be removed from the courtroom, saying their presence could sway the jury.
“This type of language is spoken from a supremist culture, attitude and mindset that has pretty much shaped our country,” Tillman Jr. said.
Over 100 black pastors heard these words and responded immediately. They rallied in solidarity outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Thursday.
“We knew we had to react,” Tillman Jr. said.
Tillman runs First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint and said when lawyer Gough made his comment he was called to visit Georgia.
“Not being around while the story is being made, I think, calls us to be responsible, not just selfish, but to be there because we represent someone else,” Tillman Jr. said.
Tillman said it was an act to support the Arbery family.
“Hearing the mother, talking and hearing the pain of the father and hearing the sister express their feelings, it was a reminder that my five boys could easily be the same person,” Tillman Jr. said.
“We actually have to hope that justice is done, rather than knowing that if the facts are known, we will actually receive the appropriate punishment. Justice has a color, and it is not for black people.”