What are they hiding?!
Plenty of lies and empty promises, but there are still no answers for the family and communities grieving for Andrew Brown Jr. after Pasquotank County deputies shot and killed him while executing search and arrest warrants on April 21.
On Saturday, Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman lead a march of religious leaders from across North Carolina through the streets of Elizabeth City. The socially distanced demonstration ended with a rally demanding transparency in the investigation and the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor. Baptist, Church of Christ, Episcopalian, United Methodist, Muslim, and several other denominations were represented at the protest for peace and police accountability.
“A warrant is not a license to kill and murder,” Bishop Barber said. “A warrant, a gun, and a badge are too much power for a racist, and a trigger-happy group of police.”
Elizabeth City declared a state of emergency in anticipation of releasing part of the bodycam footage. Judge Jeffrey Foster ruled that only 20 minutes from the 2 hours of footage were relevant to the family. The backpedaling by District Attorney Andrew Womble’s office continued until they whittled down the 20 minutes to only a 20-second video reveal, which the family still describes as an execution.
Brown’s aunt responded to the callous ruling saying; “20 seconds, not enough. 20 minutes, not enough. We want to see the whole tape. We will not stop until we get justice for my nephew. Say his name!”
Several clergy members agreed and echoed her statement in a press release.
Family attorney Harry Daniels
“This is the unlawful killing of an unarmed black man in America once again. And they know it. They know it. We know it. The witnesses know it.” “They are keeping the truth from this family, who is grieving, from this city, from this town, and from this nation.”
Family attorney Chance Lynch
“I am grieved that even in 2021 we still have a justice system and those in a justice system who seek to hide and to distort truth and transparency to avoid accountability.”
Rev. Javan Leach, pastor, Mt. Lebanon AME Zion Church, Elizabeth City
“There’s been too much Black blood saturating the soil of America. And if we continue to stand, maybe they will be able to include us in one nation under God, help me say it, indivisible for liberty, and justice not just for white people not just for black people, but say it with me, for all.”
Rev. Benny Oakes, pastor, First United Methodist Church Elizabeth City
“We need more transparency, not less. Jesus, we need you to recover the sight of our justice system’s blindness. Judge Foster, we need you to perform the duties of your office and release all law enforcement footage to this Brown family and to this community so healing can begin again.”
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, executive director, N.C. Council of Churches
“It’s the day before Mother’s Day and here we are gathered because of another killing by people in power. And we are all wailing. Not just the mothers. But especially maybe on this day before Mother’s Day, we can pay homage to the pain of the mothers. So much pain…You see the pain of the state-sanctioned killing by power-hungry leaders scars us for generations…What we must do is return home and start dismantling racism. No more state-sanctioned killing by denied healthcare. Expand Medicaid already. No more state-sanctioned killing by paying wages so low people cannot feed their children. Raise the minimum wage already. No more state-sanctioned killing by imposing severe voting restrictions that prevent people from electing people that will pass laws to stop the killing. We must force them to stop the killing. And then — only then — will the mothers stop the wailing.”
The Brown family is also advocating to change the North Carolina law that requires law enforcement agencies to petition the court for a judge’s order to get bodycam or dashcam footage released.
Of the 7 deputies placed on administrative leave after shooting the loving father of 7 in cold blood in front of his house, 4 officers have already been reinstated. While these officers are back to working in full capacity, Andrew Brown Jr. was laid to rest on May 3.
Although too many tragic killings like this compete for our attention, we see you in Elizabeth City, too.