Amid heavy police intimidation, community members in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and supporters from the region gathered May 1 for the 11th day in a row. They were protesting the killing of Andrew Brown by officers of the city’s police department.
On April 21, Andrew Brown was sitting in his driveway in his car with his hands on the steering wheel. Multiple police vehicles drove to Brown’s house, including a truck with its bed filled with armed police.
After arriving at Brown’s house, police approached his car and opened fire. He was shot five times, from behind. The Brown family’s attorney, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, described it as an execution. Brown maneuvered his car, but only to avoid the attack.
After a long wait, the Brown family and attorneys have been allowed to view only 20 seconds of edited footage from a single police officer’s body camera. Restrictions on releasing the tapes were placed by a judge; a 10-day wait for the family, and a 30-day wait for the public to see the tapes.
The community and protesters demand the release of the full and unedited body-camera tapes of the killing.
Police statements to the media claim there was a warrant out for Brown’s arrest in relation to a so-called “drug investigation” and he had a “history” of resisting arrest. Many media outlets have included this uncritically in their reporting of the extrajudicial killing of Brown.
This is a tactic often used in the aftermath of police violence, particularly against Black people. It is a common thread connecting the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and countless others. It must be recognized as an attack on the victim’s character to control public opinion and to justify the racist abuse and killings committed by police.
Even before people around the country could breathe a sigh of relief after the recent guilty verdicts for killer cop Derek Chauvin — resulting from last summer’s mass rebellion — police terror rages on.
The recent murders of Andrew Brown and of 16-year-old Ma’kiah Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, have made it clear that there has been little to no change within police departments across the country. Both killings highlight the role of the police in maintaining the oppression of Black people.
Residents of Elizabeth City and others who came to stand in solidarity with the Brown family made comments to this effect. Many called for accountability and reform around hiring practices, others cited a need for systemic change.
Molly from Elizabeth City told Liberation News, “We want systematic change… not just for this community, but across the board in America… just to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Andre, a local activist, said, “We need to change the whole system … from bottom to top.” Others condemned police terror against the Black community and identified a need to fight to abolish the police entirely.
The police are a racist institution integral to the functioning of capitalism and white supremacy, enjoying impunity under the system. This must end for any semblance of justice to take root.
All progressive and revolutionary people should stand in solidarity with Black communities and victims of police violence throughout the country and support the calls for justice for Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City.