ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — A community continues to heal a year after the death of Andrew Brown Jr. threw Elizabeth City in the national spotlight overnight.
One year later, the city shows signs of healing and leaders have set their sights on a new target to achieve change.
The community gathered Thursday to honor Andrew Brown’s memory. Thursday’s events started 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 mourns not only the death of Andrew Brown, but also his sister who died on Easter Sunday. Glenda Brown Thomas, Andrew’s aunt, asked the community for one thing Thursday night.
“Just pray for our family because we’re going through a lot at this moment,” she said.
Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed 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 get to see what the family and activists have asked for since the beginning.
“The family would like to see a video, entirety that’s not redacted,” she said. “Stop waiting until after the election to show a video. People need to see now what you’ve done.”
Cheryl Morrison, who activists call the local mother of the movement, says she and other community members continue to come out and march for one reason.
“We still out here for justice for Andrew Brown. ‘Cause as far as I’m concerned as long as those sheriff’s hold, um, deputies hold jobs, nothing has changed,” said Morrison.
Brown’s death made a mark on the city with Black Lives Matter painted on the street next to the sheriff’s office and active steps toward forming a citizens advisory council.
Pasquotank County NAACP President Keith Rivers says more needs to be done.
“We’re having a multitude of shootings. We’re having violence all over the city. We’ve yet to see our new police chief and this is not the way that you start interacting with the community that is hurting,” said Rivers.
Rivers says the permit for today’s march was denied without an explanation given. Still, they say one way or another, their calls for change will be heard.
“I’m taking that fight to the polls,” said Brown Thomas.
Community members want their neighbors to know their local elections matter more and have a greater impact on their everyday lives.
“This is the important voting. Not the President, but right here in our community,” said Morrison. “And we need new people on that City Council. We need people who care about the people. We need people who are going to work.”
Rivers says they’re planning a number of events to get out the vote ahead of the primary and general elections this year.
“Let your voice be heard,” said Rivers. “True 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 start at the K.E. White Graduate Center at Elizabeth City State University at 11 a.m.
In Elizabeth City, the mayor, City Council and the sheriff are all up for election this year.