Commentary: Bad laws and loopholes adversely affect Black people

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Commentary: Bad laws and loopholes adversely affect Black people
May 05
12:02 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

I am tired of watching “Breaking News.” These days, it is mostly about us. As an African American man, it keeps me tired and tense.

Is there an end in sight? Unfortunately, in my opinion, the answer is no.

That is a sad refrain, yet here we are.

The state of North Carolina is now under a social justice watch. Will there be justice? Will it be denied?

At this moment, it is delayed. With this delay comes frustration and anger. Patience is a virtue, but obstinance is an obstacle.

Elizabeth City, a small town in North Carolina, is in the wrong kind of spotlight. It is the scene of another Black man shot and killed by the police. Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man, was killed by sheriff’s deputies last Wednesday as they were at his house with search and arrest warrants. 

“It’s just messed up how this happened.” Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, said. “He got executed. It ain’t right.”

Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, family attorney, said there were at least seven law enforcement officers at the scene.

It begs this question. Do you need seven police to serve an arrest warrant?

Mr. Brown left his home and then the shooting began. Reports say his automobile was riddled with bullets. Another Black life lost and now the explaining begins.

A video of this tragic incident has been released by the police. Here is the problem.

Family attorney, Ben Crump, said, “We do not feel that we got transparency. We only saw a snippet of the video.”

R. Michael Cox, Pasquotank County attorney, has only released a segment of the total video. North Carolina law requires that a court approve the full release of the video.

There is this harrowing feeling that comes over Black people when slow-motion justice comes into play. The Brown family is shedding tears and grieving for their loved one. This system has given them no relief and a lot of disbelief. We are trapped in the clutches of this criminal justice system. It is a vice that will not let us go.

In my opinion, the moment we are entwined with law enforcement, there begins a living and continuous nightmare for us.

Police shootings can divide a community, many times along racial lines.

It appears this is happening in North Carolina.

Pasquotank County where Elizabeth City is located is predominantly white. Elizabeth City is predominantly Black.

Many residents in Elizabeth City, which has a Black mayor and a Black police chief, believe the county is leading this investigation.

Kristie Puckett-Williams, manager of ACLU of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice, said, “The people of Elizabeth City are deeply troubled by this. There is a racial divide amongst the city and the county, and this has only widened the divide.”

Reports say there is little to no relationship between city and county officials. Elizabeth City Councilman Michael Brooks said, “It appears to me that the city-elected officials are the only ones holding the burden when (Brown’s death) was caused by county deputies.”

This information must be a factor when this case goes to court.

These times in America between the races are frayed and fractured. There needs to be more common ground between us. Until more white people stand up for right, wrong will continue to have its way. This is my opinion.

Andrew Brown Jr. was shot multiple times by the police. One of the bullets hit him in the back of the head.

Is this law enforcement agency going to be held accountable for its actions?

That question is going to go unanswered for a while.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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