Two high-profile murder cases are underway, the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the three men charged with gunning down Ahmaud Arbery, and those involved in the trials are receiving backlash for racist comments, including a judge and a defense attorney.

During the trial of the three men in Georgia, defense attorney Kevin Gough, who represents co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, took issue with the presence in the courtroom of Rev. Al Sharpton, a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who was invited by the Arbery family.

"We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family trying to influence a jury in this case," said Gough, adding that he has "nothing personally against" Sharpton. “If we're going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we're going to bring high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that's intimidating and it's an attempt to pressure ... or influence the jury.”

During the trial of Rittenhouse, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder made a joke about an upcoming lunch break and has come under criticism for heavy-handed behavior during the trial.

He joked, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming . . . isn’t on one of those boats along Long Beach Harbor.”

The joke plays on stereotypes in the U.S. about Asian cuisine and Asian people. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen around the globe and in the U.S., many based on harmful stereotypes.

Both trials have come under criticism due to their predominantly white juries. In Kenosha County, Wisconsin, where Rittenhouse’s trial is taking place, the area is 75% white and the jury is overwhelmingly white, according to a New York Times breakdown of the jury selection.

In Glynn County, Georgia, where the Arbery trial is taking place, over a quarter of the residents are Black and yet there is only one Black juror, according to an analysis by USA Today.

Sharpton was quick to point this out. He called the Arbery case a lynching in the 21st century.