ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Saturday was day four of protests in Elizabeth City. The crowd, while still fairly large was the smallest since the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. Even so, the group’s continuing cries for transparency and accountability were just as powerful.
Quentin Jackson, a friend of Brown’s and the regional director for the National Black Caucus of local elected officials, said the group walked 9 miles in the rain calling for justice.
“We’re going to shut down the streets until we’re ready to go in,” he said. “The rain will not deter us. Andrew Brown could never feel this rain again, so it’s not going to deter us. We’re not going to turn around. We’re going to keep on marching forward.”
Jackson said some protesters came as far as California, Texas, and New Jersey to stand with Brown’s family. Demonstrators are demanding the release of body camera footage showing the events leading up to why Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed the 42-year old man Wednesday morning as they were serving a warrant for his arrest.
Brown’s cousin Zena Jackson along with other family members have been marching since day one.
“I appreciate everyone – Black, white, Latino, whatever they are - for coming, standing with our family, because we need them,” said Zena Jackson. “They need us and we need them.”
The demonstrations so far have been peaceful and city leaders are ensuring they stay that way.
“It is now the weekend and with these protests on the weekend people come in, they're called nomads and they come in to wreak havoc and they leave,” said Elizabeth City Manager Montre’ Freeman. “I'm asking all protesters if you identify someone see someone and they have come here to create trouble and create distractions that you identify them, we absolutely have enough officers and we'll have them removed.”
Elizabeth City Police are at the ready with extra boots on the ground in case any violence erupts.
“We are prepared and we hope those forces from the outside do not come in and interrupt what we have worked hard for since Wednesday and we're not going to allow any unlawful protests,” said Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe.
Since demonstrations began, Chief Buffaloe said there have been no arrests or property damage.
Brown’s family and others said they will continue to spread their message in a nonviolent way.
“We want it peaceful,” Zena Jackson said. “We don’t want a whole lot of chaos. We just want the truth out. We just want the sheriff to let us know what’s going on - the truth. That’s all we want. We want justice.”
In a Facebook video message Saturday, Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation whether releasing the body camera video would interfere with their investigation of the incident. Wooten went on to say that once he has confirmation from the SBI, the agency that took over the case, he would then file a motion in court “hopefully” Monday to have the footage released to the family.