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Second weekend of protests over shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.

Published: May. 1, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT|Updated: May. 1, 2021 at 9:54 PM EDT
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ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WITN) - People gathered in Elizabeth City again on Saturday to continue calls for transparency and accountability in the shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr.

The past week has been tense for some people as law enforcement officials brought in backup from across the state and more people joined in from out of state to participate in protests.

Elizabeth City extended the curfew to midnight on Friday but some people say the demonstrations could have been handled better.

Some protesters who were arrested in Elizabeth City on Tuesday when the curfew was at 8 p.m. called for several changes at a press conference on Saturday.

Reverend Curtis Gatewood, who is the founder of “Stop Killing Us Solutions Campaign,” started by saying the curfew was “unnecessary,” because all protests have been peaceful.

The curfew in Elizabeth City changed from 8 p.m. to midnight, to 6 a.m.

“I knew right away that was a problem,” Gatewood said. “It was an infringement of the Constitution, which gives all people the opportunity … to peacefully assemble.”

Gatewood acknowledged there were warnings prior to the arrests but said the authorities seemed to be “instigating the citizens,” and “escalating attention, rather than de-escalating and making sure they can remain peaceful.”

Rev. Dr. Michelle Lewis, who’s participated in demonstrations several times, said it’s been peaceful.

“I want to remind the viewers that Elizabeth City is a city of hospitality,” Lewis said. “And it’s interesting to me to see how unwelcome people who live in the city have been made to feel by law enforcement and some city officials.”

There were a few moments of tension between police officers and protestors, who expressed their frustrations directly to the officers who were escorting the group over the limited number of answers to too many questions and the limited amount of body camera footage that was released to the family. Just 20 seconds of one of five cameras was disclosed to the Brown’s loved ones.

“If the camera shows the footage shows that the cop was in the wrong, then someone needs to come out and say that,” said Harold Tolbert, who came to Elizabeth City from Maryland with his wife, Angela. “We have two African American sons,” she added. “So, every time go out I hope they don’t find themselves in that predicament.”

Addonnis Jones, 25, who was arrested on Tuesday, said seeing law enforcement in riot gear sends a “wrong image.”

One of their demands at the press conference included holding all seven of the deputies involved in the shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr. accountable despite Sheriff Wooten’s statement that four of the deputies “never fired their weapons.”

“Four of those seven cops that shot Drew are back on the police force right now working,” Jones said. “Who’s to say they won’t be out there tonight when we’re protesting peacefully again tonight.”

The group also called for law enforcement officials who are at Elizabeth City State University to be “evicted immediately,” as there have been “no acts of violence from students nor the general public which justify law enforcement’s abrupt occupation of the city’s only Historically Black College and University (HBCU).”

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