ELIZABETH CITY, NC (AP) – The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ended when Dakwon Gibbs told a friend that the killing of George Floyd and others would not take place in Elizabeth City. North Carolina
“I said, ‘We live in a town that is too small. We’re a very small community, ”says Gibbs, 22,“ and two days later it happened, I was wrong, I was so wrong. ”
Fatal shot Of Andrew Brown, Jr., sheriff officials sent shock waves through this mostly small black town in the northeastern corner of the state. Despite being an important landmark in 19th- and 20th-century African-American history, Elizabeth City looks too tight and impossible to turn into a flashpoint on the 21st.
That changed when BrownThe 42-year-old was shot by a Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputy who served a search and issued a drug-related arrest warrant at his home on April 21 Brown, a black man, behind the wheel of his car when he Was shot 5 times, including in the back of The chief followed an independent autopsy assigned by his family.
Police camera footage has not yet been made public or shown to Brown’s family in its entirety. And shootings have sparked peaceful protests every night, with demonstrators calling for video releases and police reform. Numerous police and television camera crews descend on the city’s riverside downtown.
“We see all of this happening around the world. But we never thought that this would happen in our city, ”City Councilor Gabriel Adkins said during an emergency call after the shooting.
“And people are scared … They’re afraid you know the riots are about to begin,” Addkins said.
Surrounded by miles of flat farmland, Elizabeth City is a quaint urban center for a relatively isolated region. Much of the economy is seized by large US Coast Guard bases, often running rescue missions in the neighboring Atlantic. It is also home to the Elizabeth City State University, a former black university founded in 1891. Still, more than a fifth of people still live in the state. Poor in town
The city is about an hour’s drive from Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, including North Carolina’s touristy Outer Banks, but it’s not where many people drive through – or have heard of.
“I’m sorry this is the first time a lot of people have heard of Elizabeth City,” said Melissa Stuckey, a university history professor, “because it’s a place where the black freedom struggle has been going on for decades.”
The city is located on the Pasquotank River and arose in the 19th century due to its proximity to the Great Dismal Swamp. Cypress and cedar trees were cut down. For the wood that does not perish and becomes the masts and fence posts. The oppressed Americans were ordered to work there. But the swamps are still a place where they need refuge after their release from slavery.
During the Civil War, black troops marched to Elizabeth City after President Abraham Lincoln allowed African Americans to enlist. They participated in a raid to free up nearby farmland.
In the 1940s the city had a strong black business community. And in the 1960s, Elizabeth City residents and university students worked to split up businesses in the region, many of whom were arrested.
“In a lot of ways, I see what’s happening on our streets today as part of a long history of black independence struggles in the region and in the United States,” Stuckey said. Difficult But it’s a time when we can draw attention to what people are doing on the road right now. ”
Linwood Gallop, 52, an electrician has been demonstrating every protest since the day Brown was killed. He grew up in the neighborhood where Brown was shot, caught a school bus in the corner and bought a candy nickel from a nearby store.
Although Gallop only knew Brown. But he ignored any advice by officials that the shooting was justified. He said that the city is zinc because it is very close together.
“They are trying to make us criminals. But we know each other. It’s too personal, ”Gallop said.“ That’s why it’s not working here. ”
Gallop also pointed out that it was a sheriff’s officer working as part of the drug force that fired Brown, not the city’s police force.
“I couldn’t imagine a police officer shooting someone in 30 years here. We’re not familiar with what happened here,” Gallop said. “If we don’t know you, we know someone who knows you. We can literally call someone and say ‘Hey, the police man is looking for you. Go to town ”
Ernest Banks, 65, who owns a shoe repair shop in the city, participated in several demonstrations.
“We can still go on,” he said. “This will not die.”