Since the police hardly revealed the detailed information that led to Brown’s death, many community members said that this raised questions about the transparency and accountability of the Sheriff’s Office, which has been unable to deal with the black community.
Community leaders and residents said that although they maintain a strong relationship with the Elizabeth City Police Department, their relationship with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office is tense. They say the agency has done little to build trust with black residents and excluded black activists from discussions surrounding policies that affect the community, such as the use of cameras. The problem reflects the racial divide in this rural county of about 40,000 people, of which 54% are whites and 36% are blacks. Among them are white sheriffs, White County prosecutors and mainly white commissioners. However, the proportion of blacks in Elizabeth City is 50%, whites are 37%, the black mayor is black, the black police chief is the first, and the black city council is the majority. The town has nearly 1
Activists and city officials said that the sheriff’s office’s handling of Brown’s death made Elizabeth City residents more vigilant against county officials.
“The people of Elizabeth City are deeply disturbed by this,” said Christie Puckett-Williams, an activist in Elizabeth City, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union of the “Smart Justice Movement” in North Carolina. “There is a racial gap between cities and counties, and this will only widen the gap.”
Elizabeth City officials said that their relationship with Pasquotank County officials is almost non-existent.
Assemblyman Michael Brooks said that city councils and county committees should hold regular joint meetings to discuss issues such as economic development, race relations-as well as security and emergencies (such as the turmoil of Brown’s death).
Instead, Brooks said, there was almost no contact between Parliament and the county government, and city officials were forced to talk about the incident publicly to calm the protesters and community members.
“In my opinion, the elected officials in this city are the only burden (Brown’s death) caused by being deputies to the county people’s congress,” Brooks told CNN. “It’s really sad, it shows you how tense the relationship with the county commissioner and the city council is.”
The Pasak Tangk County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment.
Due to the ongoing investigation, Perth Qutank County Commissioner Barry Overman (Barry Overman) declined to comment on Brown’s murder and the relationship between county officials and the black community.
Much of the information about Brown’s death comes from his family and their lawyers. The family announced earlier this week that an independent autopsy revealed that Brown shot four times in the right arm and in the head while trying to escape the sheriff representative.
Pasqua Tank County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Keith Rivers (Keith Rivers) and other civil rights leaders called on Pasqua Tank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II to resign, stating He knew nothing about Brown’s death and lost all trust and credibility.
“If he fails to show any transparency or accountability to this community, how will he instill and stop the unrest in the community?” Rivers said. “How can he perform the duties of a sheriff fairly and effectively? Honesty ceases to exist.”
But Wutten insisted that he has been transparent and accountable in the investigation of Brown’s death.
Brown’s family and district attorneys in the area offered different accounts of what led to the fatal shooting earlier this week.
District Attorney Andrew Womble (Andrew Womble) said that when Brown’s car drove towards them, the police opened fire. Brown’s family and lawyers who watched the 20-second video said he was driving away to save his life.
Wooten also said last week that he did not release the video because state law requires the judge to decide whether the body camera lens can be made public. Wu Teng said that he also wanted to ensure that the release of the video would not interfere with the investigation.
Wooten said in a statement on Thursday: “Our county supports the importance of serious, serious and fair review of everything that happens.” “Some people want to make judgments hastily, while others want to It only hurts our county’s way of hurting each other. My job is to ensure transparency and accountability, while retaining the ability of independent investigators to perform prudent work, hard and arduous work.”
Pasquotank County Committee Chairman Lloyd Griffin (Lloyd Griffin) supported Wooten in handling body camera footage and conducting investigations.
Griffin said earlier this week: “Hurrying to gather evidence and meet with witnesses will harm any future legal cases that may be brought after this tragedy.”
He said that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has received complaints from black residents about the excessive use of force by the sheriff’s representatives, but these allegations cannot be proved without a body camera.
Rivers said: “The sheriff’s department has been operating in the dark for some time.”
Hold the sheriff accountable
Even if body cameras are now installed, state law requires the court to order these lenses to be publicly released.
Pastor William J. Barber said that he is now lobbying the state to change the law and publicly record body camera videos.
Barber, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Movement and the president of the Breach Maintenance Staff in Goldsboro, North Carolina, said current regulations allow the county to not be held responsible for Brown’s death.
Rivers and other civil rights leaders are urging the state attorney general to take over the case or appoint a special prosecutor. They also said that the Ministry of Justice needs to conduct a “pattern or practice” investigation into the sheriff’s office. Rivers said that black people in Elizabeth City told him that they had long been the target of county sheriff representatives and that a federal investigation would be the best way to expose any systemic racism.
Barber said: “To get racism, you must investigate its patterns and practices.” “Look at the types of arrests they made, and see who was prosecuted in this county and who was not. Look at the different penalties, Look at how people are treated.”
Purkitt-Williams said that the protests and frustrations in Elizabeth City after Brown’s death proved Wutten’s failure to keep his promise.
Puckett-Williams said: “If you are not close to the community where you work, then your efficiency is low.” “He did not come into contact with black people who have radically analyzed or criticized the impact of his policies and procedures on this community.”
Wooten defended his handling of the case in a statement on Thursday. He said: “I assure the citizens of this county that I will be transparent and responsible in this matter. I have been doing this. “
Live in fear
Some black residents of Elizabeth City said that Brown’s death made them even more afraid of leaving their homes.
Christian Gilyard said he lived on the street where Brown was killed. He said that as a black man, “what happened to him could happen to me.” Gilyard wanted to see representatives of the fatal shooting Brown.
Gilard told CNN: “Once you go out and the police are finalized, you will grow up in an area that grows automatically-you are scared.” “A lot of people don’t know how it feels. Many people learn from Never experienced that feeling.”
At the same time, activists say, as family members wait to see more footage, the community is increasingly worried that the sheriff’s office is trying to cover up its involvement in Brown’s death. City officials worry that the delay may lead to more protests.
Greg Drumwright, the next-generation national organizer of Justice IV, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan: “In this case, transparency is extremely high. Lack. “Communities are tired of waiting, and families are in a place where they are tired of lack of transparency. “
CNN’s Priya Krishnakumar, Jamiel Lynch, Emma Tucker, Madeline Holcombe and Brian Todd contributed to this report.