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Faith leaders call for justice in murder of Andrew Brown Jr.

Several local pastors joined faith leaders from across the state last week to call for a federal investigation into the death of Andrew Brown Jr.

Faith leaders call for justice in murder of Andrew Brown Jr.
June 10
11:41 2021

Several local pastors joined faith leaders from across the state last week to call for a federal investigation into the death of Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by law enforcement officers in Elizabeth City. 

During rallies on Tuesday, June 2, in Greensboro, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Asheville, Raleigh, Wilmington, Elizabeth City and here in Winston-Salem at First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue, faith leaders demanded truth, transparency, and accountability for Brown’s death. 

On April 21, Brown, 42, was killed by a gunshot to the back of the head by deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were at Brown’s home that day to serve a warrant for his arrest. 

Last month Andrew Womble, Pasquotank County’s District Attorney, ruled that the officers were justified in using deadly force. 

“We have gathered today to say there cannot be a repeat,” said Rev. John Mendez during the rally at First Baptist. “There cannot continue to be coverups and deception and the protection of lies. We are here to recommit ourselves to making sure there is no repeat. We’re demanding transparency, accountability, and the facts.”

Rev. Paul Robeson Ford, pastor of First Baptist Church, demanded that Gov. Roy Cooper appoint a special prosecutor in Brown’s case and that the full body camera videos be released immediately. Other demands from Ford and other faith leaders included: pass federal and state legislation for police accountability and reform; “pattern-or-practice” investigations into the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office and into District Attorney Andrew Womble’s office in the First Judicial District of North Carolina; and when and if evidence shows any officer committed wrongful murder, there must be an arrest and full prosecution and accountability.

“We’re not going to wait 100 years for the truth about Andrew Brown Jr., we’re not going to wait 100 years and still be standing around looking for transparency about Andrew Brown Jr.,” Ford continued. “We’re calling on Gov. Roy Cooper right now to set aside that DA in Pasquotank County and appoint a special prosecutor to make sure the truth comes out about Andrew Brown, because we believe that man is participating and engaging in a coverup. There was nothing Andrew Brown was under suspicion of that day that warranted execution by cop.”

Rev. Craig Schab, pastor of Parkway United Church of Christ, who is white, said more white people must stand with those fighting for justice in Brown’s case. 

“I’m a person of faith, so I ask the question: what does love look like?” Schab asked rhetorically. “Love looks like all of us burning up the phones to the governor’s mansion demanding that independent investigation..Love looks like burning up the phones to all General Assembly members in the state of North Carolina saying, let’s change the law around the release of police body-worn tapes.

“But it also means something else, it means all of us who are European descent do this work every single day. What does love look like? It means soul searching and realizing just how complicit we are as citizens of these communities.” 

On June 12, Repairers of the Breach, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and B.R.I.D.G.E. will hold a mass march and rally for Brown in Elizabeth City; thousands are expected to attend. For more information about the mass march scheduled for later this month, visit https://www.breachrepairers.org/andrew-brown-clergy-march-rally.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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