The daily protests over the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City on April 21 continued Saturday, with small peaceful marches in Elizabeth City and Durham.
About 75 people gathered in downtown Durham for an “Elizabeth City solidarity rally” to continue the call for the release of body camera video taken from the Pasquotank County deputies who shot and killed Brown.
A county judge has agreed to let members of the Brown family review the video in about a week, but said nothing would be released to the public for at least 30 days, while the State Bureau of Investigation continues its investigation of the shooting.
The Durham crowd dispersed after marching through downtown streets, without incident, for about 90 minutes.
Earlier, a group of more than 70 protesters marched through Elizabeth City, marking the 11th straight day of demonstrations after the death of Brown, a Black man who was shot and killed by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies April 21.
Brown, 42, was killed in his car by deputies who were serving warrants related to federal drug charges.
On Saturday, protesters marched for more than three miles while receiving a police escort, shutting down traffic at times and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name.”
The protesters urged public officials to release body cam footage of Brown’s killing, repeatedly chanting, “Release the tape, the whole tape,” and “20 seconds is not enough.”
Earlier in the week, a Pasquotank County judge denied multiple requests to release footage of Brown’s death, ruling that the family could view the footage in about a week, but that it would not be released publicly for at least a month.
David Lee, 50, who was born in Elizabeth City and lives in the nearby town of Currituck, prayed over protesters before and after the march. In an interview he said justice can’t begin until the public views the body cam footage.
“To get justice, we have to see the tapes,” Lee said. “The need to just reveal the footage.”
Whitley Johnson, 31, brought her two daughters and three nephews to the march, at times carrying one of the girls on her shoulders and each wearing Black Lives Matter shirts or carrying signs.
“I wanted to support the community,” Johnson said of marching Saturday. “I wanted (the kids) to know reality early and to support their people and the community. We want to show them now while they’re kids what they have to look forward to and to know what’s going on around them so they won’t be blindsided.”
Some family members of Brown’s family and their attorneys have seen 20 seconds of video from the shooting. They said it shows he was unarmed, with his hands on the steering wheel, and no threat to the deputies. They released autopsy results showing Brown died from a gunshot wound to the back of his head, and have called his death “an execution.”
Family members, protesters, Democrat officials and media organizations have sought release of all police video recorded during the attempted arrest. Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten and the county attorney also support the video release.
Wooten told NPR in an interview broadcast Friday that the State Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the shooting, also supports making the video public.
“I spoke with the State Bureau of Investigation, who is actually doing the criminal investigation,” Wooten said. “They advised me that they were good with the video being released.”
State Superior Court Judge Jeffery B. Foster on Wednesday denied its release outside of some immediate family, saying the media and the public had no standing to request access to the video. A 2016 state law gives judges authority over whether to publicly release body and dashcam video.
Wooten told NPR that the shooting wasn’t an execution. In court Wednesday, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble disputed the family’s characterization of what happened. Womble, who opposed the release of the video, said Brown’s vehicle twice made contact with deputies as they sought to arrest him.
The shooting happened less than 24 hours after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Protests erupted across the country after Floyd’s death last summer.