During a pretrial hearing regarding the case of Ahmaud Arbery on Friday (July 17), defense lawyer Kevin Gough argued that George Floyd masks should not be worn in court.

“If we are permitted to wear masks making political statements, then Mr. Evans and I and his office should be free to wear ‘MAGA’ masks if we wanted to in the courtroom,” Gough said, referring to prosecutor Jesse Evans and President Donald Trump’s famous campaign slogan.

He added, “I imagine the court wouldn’t appreciate that. And I think the same rules should apply and any political statements whether on masks, on lapels, bumper stickers, T-shirts. Whatever people [wear], this is not the place for political statements.”

After hearing the attorney’s request, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said that courtroom spectator S. Lee Merritt’s mask was not distracting. He clarified that he would revisit the idea if it presents an issue in the future. “I’m not one for games,” he said. “If anything in the court becomes disruptive, it’s the court’s position that that disruption will be dealt with. This is not a place to make a statement.”

On May 25, Floyd died at the hands of police brutality in Minneapolis. Following his tragic death, several protests have broken out across America, calling for racial equality. In addition to organized marches, people have worn apparel that support the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Friday (July 17), Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William Bryan, the three men charged with the murder of Arbery, pleaded not guilty after they were indicted on nine counts, including felony murder, false imprisonment, malice murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Back in February, the unarmed Black man was fatally shot during a jog in Georgia and was called a “f**king ni**er” after.