THESE SHOOTINGS ARE NOT ISOLATED CASES, THERE IS A SYSTEM STRATEGY AFOOT BY WHITE SUPREMACISTS IN POLICE DEPARTMENTS TO SHOW WHO IS BOSS.
A Black man was shot and killed in North Carolina on Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies carrying out a search warrant, officials said, an incident that drew national attention and dozens of protesters to the streets of Elizabeth City.
Nearly 200 people gathered Wednesday night in Elizabeth City to protest the death and call for justice.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten identified the man as Andrew Brown Jr. News station WAVY reported that family members said Brown was 40 years old, but public records show he was 42.
The shooting happened at about 8:30 a.m. in Elizabeth City. Officials provided few details about the shooting, saying the State Bureau of Investigation has taken over. Officials did not say what the warrant was for, nor how many shots were fired at Brown. The deputy, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the SBI’s review, Wooten said.
As tensions rose through the city, Wooten said local law enforcement agencies and the State Highway Patrol came to Elizabeth City on Wednesday “to ensure the safety and protection of the citizens in our community.” The City Council in Elizabeth City, roughly 165 miles northeast of Raleigh, held an emergency meeting Wednesday evening that became emotional as council members voiced their concerns and fears.“There are a lot of people hurting in our city,” Councilman Gabriel Adkins said at the meeting. “We have a lot of hurt people.“I’m afraid. You know, I mean let’s be real. We talk about transparency, I’m gonna be transparent,” Adkins said. “I’m afraid as a Black man walking around this city, driving my car down the road, trying to make sure that I’m driving the speed limit, trying to make sure that I wear my seat belt, trying to make sure that do everything right.”
Officials repeatedly emphasized that it was the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Department and not the Elizabeth City Police Department involved in the shooting. Six deputies and officers stood in front of the door to City Hall, blocking public entry. Outside, a group of about 30 protesters swelled to nearly 200 while the meeting was going on. Protesters took turns with a megaphone.“I grew up with Andrew Brown!” said Deshawn Morris. “I knew him! I knew his family! That man didn’t get his due process today. That could be you tomorrow!
About 7 p.m., council members emerged to screams and jeers, struggling to be heard. Councilman Darius Horton wore a Black Lives Matter shirt and assured the crowd the investigation will continue. “If we didn’t have this emergency meeting, they wouldn’t have had this opportunity,” Councilman Michael Brooks said of the protesters. “If they would stay focused and let the SBI finish the investigation. They have to vent right now. Otherwise, we’ll be fine.”During the meeting, Adkins reminded people to stay calm and trust the State Bureau of Investigation to “do its job.
Horton said at the meeting that officials need to be transparent about what happened. “We don’t have the information, but it needs to be put out in the forefront. The body cameras, that needs to be released immediately,” he said.
The Pasquotank deputies involved had body-worn cameras, Sheriff Wooten said.“We will be transparent, and we will take the proper action based on the findings of [the SBI] investigation,” he said. He said he did not have a timeline for when the body-worn camera footage would be released. The crowd chanted “Say his name! Andrew Brown!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” as they marched through downtown after 7 p.m. “We’re dealing with issues in our communities,” said Rev. Timothy Stallings Sr., leading a prayer. “Personal issues! Stress issues! Life-filled issues! We need our law enforcement not to shoot us but to come help us out.” Some of those gathered were friends of Brown. “I’ve been knowing him 30 years, and he wasn’t a violent person,” said Daniel Bowser. “He didn’t mess with guns, he didn’t tote no guns. “I don’t care what they put out there, he didn’t deserve to die.” Martha McCullen, an aunt of Brown, told The Associated Press that she raised him after his parents died. “The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” McCullen told The AP. “Andrew Brown was a good person. He was about to get his kids back. He was a good father. Now his kids won’t never see him again.”
As the sun went down, about 100 protesters remained, crowding onto busy Ehringhaus Street, taking knees simultaneously as they blocked traffic. They asked for Sheriff Wooten for a public accounting of what is known and what will be investigated, promising to stay peaceful and return Thursday. “We are asking for transparency, to not have to listen to rumors,” said Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank branch of the NAACP. He also said the sheriff should be reaching out to Black leaders. “If it was a white man who was shot, would he address the white community?” Elizabeth City officials did not impose a curfew on Wednesday but said they would consider one if needed. Brown’s death comes less than 24 hours after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes last May.
His death sparked nationwide protests calling for increased police accountability and changes in the way officers interact with Black people. State Rep. Howard Hunter, whose 5th District seat encompasses Pasquotank County, spoke out Wednesday afternoon. “Understandably so, constituents are on the edge and very much distrustful of police in general; and in light of the fact that very little information has been released at this time; unfortunately they may have doubts in the veracity of information when released.”
Situated in far northeastern North Carolina near the Virginia border, Elizabeth City is home to about 18,000 people, nearly half of rural Pasquotank County’s total population. Half of the city’s residents are Black, compared to about 13% statewide, according to Census Bureau data. Elizabeth City State University, a historically Black college, canceled classes after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. School officials encouraged students and staff to contact the counseling center if they are in need of emotional support. District Attorney Andrew Womble, whose jurisdiction spans several North Carolina counties, including Pasquotank, promised a thorough investigation. “What we are looking for at this time will be accurate answers and not fast answers,” Womble said.