ELIZABETH CITY, NC (WAVY) — A community continues to heal a year after the death of Andrew Brown Jr. threw Elizabeth City into the national spotlight overnight.
A year later, the city is showing signs of healing and leaders have set their sights on a new goal to effect change.
The community gathered Thursday to honor the memory of Andrew Brown. Thursday’s events began with a short rally at the Public Safety Building, followed by a march to Waterfront Park where activists held a candlelight vigil.
The Brown family not only mourns the death of Andrew Brown, but also his sister who died on Easter Sunday. Glenda Brown Thomas, Andrew’s aunt, asked the community one thing on Thursday night.
“Just pray for our family because we’re going through a lot right now,” she said.
Andrew Brown Jr. was shot dead by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Deputies when they came to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants.
Brown Thomas says Andrew’s sister won’t be able to see what the family and activists have been asking for all along.
“The family would like to see a video, in its entirety, that is not redacted,” she said. “Stop waiting until after the election to show a video. People need to see what you’ve done now.
Cheryl Morrison, whom activists call the local mother of the movement, says she and other community members keep going out and marching for a reason.
“We are still here to get justice for Andrew Brown. Because as far as I’m concerned, as long as these sheriffs are holding, uh, deputies are holding jobs, nothing has changed,” Morrison said.
Brown’s death marked the city with Black Lives Matter painted on the street next to the sheriff’s office and active steps towards forming a Citizens’ Advisory Council.
Pasquotank County NAACP President Keith Rivers said more needs to be done.
“We have a multitude of shootings. We have violence all over the city. We haven’t seen our new chief of police yet and that’s not how you start to interact with the hurting community,” Rivers said.
Rivers says the permit for today’s march was denied with no explanation given. Yet, they say, one way or another, their calls for change will be heard.
“I’m taking this fight to the polls,” Brown Thomas said.
Community members want their neighbors to know that their local elections matter more and have a greater impact on their daily lives.
“It’s the important vote. Not the president, but right here in our community,” Morrison said. “And we need new people on this city council. We need people who care about people. We need people who will work.
Rivers says they are planning a number of events to get the vote out ahead of this year’s primary and general elections.
“Make your voice heard,” Rivers said. “Real equality is on election day.”
Next weekend, they’re hosting a march to the polls on the first day of early voting in North Carolina. It will begin at the KE White Graduate Center at Elizabeth City State University at 11 a.m.
In Elizabeth City, the mayor, city council and sheriff are all up for election this year.