ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — A social justice group held a press conference on Saturday in Elizabeth City to advocate for protesters arrested in the wake of the law enforcement killing of Andrew Brown Jr. and to make several demands.
Rev. Curtis Gatewood, founder of “Stop Killing Us Solutions Campaign,” was among the speakers. He was one of several protesters arrested and wanted to clear up misconceptions.
He said he sat down on the streets of Elizabeth City at 8 p.m. earlier this week because he says it was his way to protest an “unjust law,” meaning the curfew. The curfew originally started Monday at 8 p.m. and was later extended from midnight to 6 a.m.
He said the curfew put in place was unnecessary because all protests have been peaceful, and that it infringes on the First Amendment.
Gatewood, who was also joined by former Elizabeth City State student and local business owner Addonis Jones and others, also called for the elimination of no-knock warrants and a national registry of law enforcement officers who’ve been fired for previous offenses at other precincts.
“I’m doing this for all those children out there who look like me or will look like me one day. I did that for them because if don’t nobody do it, our same kids will keep dying,” Jones said.
Jones also is calling for psychological evaluations for police officers.
The group is pushing for the release of bodycam footage in the case and the suspension of all seven deputies involved in the raid in which Brown was killed. 3 who fired their weapons are still on administrative leave but four who did not have been reinstated.
The bodycam footage in the case was delayed from public release this week for at least 30 days. The district attorney in the case, Andrew Womble, claims video shows Brown’s car making contact with deputies before they fired. The family believes that wasn’t the case and have called Brown’s death an execution.
The group also demanded that law enforcement officers staying at Elizabeth City State University housing leave, calling the decision to house the officers an escalation. ECSU said Friday that 13 officers that were being housed there were moving off-campus.
The press conference came a day the North Carolina ACLU and other civil rights groups sent a letter to Elizabeth City officials, saying a new requirement that permits need to be filed to hold protests violates the First Amendment. The group also demanded for Elizabeth City to lift its midnight curfew.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation, and the FBI has also opened its own probe.
Protests day 11
Protests started in Elizabeth City around 5:30 p.m Saturday. Protesters began outside the Pasquotank County Public Safety Office.
At least 100 people were involved in the march.
Protester Denita Latta drove all the way down to Elizabeth City from Philadelphia to participate in the protests. She’s an Elizabeth City State University alum and brought a sign reading “Genocide by status quo.” She said she made the sign 10 years ago after Trayvon Martin was killed.
Latta was also friends with Brown on Facebook.
For her, these protests are personal.
“When George Zimmerman was acquitted for Trayvon Martin, it’s the same old song. It’s the same old song. We’re still doing this. And I just can’t stop. I have three Black sons, so every day that I wake up, it could be one of them,” she said.
Latta — who now lives in Delaware — echoed what Jones and others said during the press conference Saturday afternoon. She wants to see federal changes in policing requirements.
Protesters, escorted by Elizabeth City police, chanted “release the tapes” as they marched to the Waterfront area Saturday night.
They then moved on to march on the street where Brown was shot and killed April 21.
By 8:45 p.m., protesters returned to the Pasquotank County Public Safety building.
By 9:30 p.m., there was a police presence by the bridge connecting Pasquotank and Camden counties. Elizabeth City police had blocked Water Street and Colonial Avenue after some protesters tried to block the bridge.
A different group of protesters then returned by 10:20 p.m. and were standing off against police at the start of the bridge. NC state troopers were waiting across the bridge.
Some protesters has dispersed by 11 p.m.
10 On Your Side was also handed a notice about more protests scheduled for Sunday — which is also the day of the public viewing for Andrew Brown Jr. His funeral is scheduled for Monday.
BELOW: Video from day 10 of protests in Elizabeth City.
WAVY’s Jon Dowding was at the briefing and will have more coming up tonight.