Story at a glance:
- After Andrew Brown Jr. was killed, Elizabeth City had a heavy law enforcement presence.
- At least 16 people have been arrested during peaceful demonstrations.
- The city is spending $25,000 per night for law enforcement in response to the demonstrations.
Activists in Elizabeth City, N.C., are warning that the heavy police presence is daunting and may escalate tensions in protests that would otherwise be peaceful.
Last Thursday, police forces, including ones out of state and provided by the Department of Homeland Security from neighboring cities, showed up at a nonviolent protest in honor of Andrew Brown Jr. A 42-year-old father of seven, Brown was shot and killed by a police officer attempting to serve a search-and-arrest warrant on April 21, The Guardian reported.
In anticipation of the protests, Elizabeth City State University, a Historically Black College University (HBCU), temporarily shut down its campus. The Guardian reported that the university used some of its dorms to house law enforcement.
However, protesters say the police officers served little protection and actually could have caused more aggression.
Kristie Puckett Williams, a statewide manager of the ACLU of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice, was arrested for simply marching at a peaceful protest.
"It’s always an escalation when they show up to a protest in riot gear," Puckett Williams said. "That’s the level of contempt and force and vitriol they have."
Puckett Williams and others who were arrested were not charged with anything and were later released.
According to Spectrum News 1 in North Carolina, the City Manager Montré Freeman said that the cost of law enforcement cost about $25,000 per day.
Montré Freeman said this on Tuesday: “That number grows every day. It started out Day 1, we were at $5,000, then we were somewhere between $12-15,000 at the midway point, and I am expecting a number today that will put us over $20-25,000. So it just depends.” @SpecNews1RDU— Patrick Karl Thomas (@PatThomasNews) April 29, 2021
"The amount of money and overtime they’ve had to spend out of their budget that could have been used in various ways to help their community," Williams said, "That is why we have to reimagine what policing looks like."
Elizabeth City councilman Johnnie Walton, who is the temporary mayor of the city, said the policing is justified because, "if your defense is stronger than your offense, you win the game."
"There are going to be some missteps made," he said. "But so far we have done everything in our lane that we could to make things happen and keep our citizens safe."
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