ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — Elizabeth City will hire an artist to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on the street that runs past the Pasquotank County Public Safety building.
Elizabeth City City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to move forward with the idea brought by Councilman Darius Horton, who said the city needs to send a message to those still upset by the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. by county sheriff’s deputies back on April 21.
Last week, District Attorney Andrew Womble announced he would not file criminal charges against the three deputies who confronted Brown in an attempt to serve a drug arrest warrant. Womble said his opinion is the use of deadly force was justified, as Brown was a threat when he drove his car in the direction of officers.
Protesters disagree and have called Brown’s death a murder. They, along with the family, have asked for federal authorities to step in. Nightly protests in city streets have continued, with demonstrators calling for justice.
“Hurt people hurt people,” Horton said when making the proposal that was added to the agenda. “We have to send message to our community that yes all lives matter, but right now black lives matter.”
Horton said the idea came to him after seeing similar displays in other major cities following the murder of George Floyd a year ago. Those marching in Elizabeth City have been meeting outside the public safety building along Colonial Avenue, which happens to be where the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office is located.
Only Councilwoman Jeannie Young voted against the proposal, saying she doesn’t favor naming any public property after people or groups. Councilman Billy Caudle was absent.
No cost estimate was revealed.
City Manager Montre’ Freeman did say the city has spent more than $323,000 on its response so far since Brown’s death. Police officers have worked overtime and outside law enforcement agencies have come in to help manage protests.
“I can’t even imagine what you and your department have been going through,” said Councilman Gabriel Adkins, who has helped to lead protests. He told Chief Eddie Buffaloe that he commends the work they have done.