The following statement was issued on April 30 by Black Workers for Justice, an organization of Black workers founded in 1981 to build the African American workers’ movement as a central force in the struggle for Black Liberation and Worker’s Power. For more, go to Blackworkersforjustice.com, [email protected] or write to BWFJ, P.O. Box 1863, Rocky Mount, N.C. 27802.
On April 20, Elizabeth City, N.C., became yet another site of a fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black person. The murder of Andrew Brown has prompted the justified outrage of the community leading to more than 10 days of protests with crowds reaching as many as 400.
The demands from the community have been on target: 1) Release of the body cam footage; 2) Immediate arrest of the three officers; and 3) An end of the curfew.
Police have been brought in from cities across the state of North Carolina as an act of intimidation in the form of a military assault on the peaceful protests.
Rooftop snipers, nightly arrests and pressuring of Elizabeth City State University to force students to vacate the dormitories to accommodate law enforcement officials from outside of the county are part of the repression.
These students have historically, and recently, been subject to police brutality on campus like their brothers and sisters in the community.
The added demand now is for a removal of police from the campus, the removal of outside law enforcement, who are here under the pretense of riots and violence, and an end to the curfew.
Staying in the streets, with more and more involvement and leadership from all sectors of the community, is extremely important.
But equally important is building an organization to deal with the immediate response and the long hard fight ahead to achieve justice for Andrew Brown and to challenge and dismantle the system of policing that killed him and hundreds of our people across the South and the rest of the U.S.
Grassroots leadership, a set of principles to keep folks accountable to each other and strategy to win the demands are the building blocks needed to make change and shift the power.
Communities across the country are fighting for Community Control and Review Boards to deal with police behavior. They are calling for resources to be shifted to building up the community, instead of building up the resources of the police. Elizabeth City can do this too.
The Black Workers for Justice supports you in your fight for justice and building power for the people. We are willing to help.
Continue to stand up, and others will stand with you. You are the leaders you have been waiting for!