As of Saturday, the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office will no longer assist the Elizabeth City Police in escorting those protesting the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.
Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten announced this on his department’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Our office has been working with our neighboring agency, the Elizabeth City Police Department, to assist with the daily protests since that event,” Wooten said, referring to Brown’s shooting by three deputies of the Pasquotank Sheriff on the April 21 event I have decided it was time to resume normal operations. “
Wooten said the sheriff’s office will no longer help with escorts for the protests as of Saturday.
The statement also criticized the city’s continued issuing of permits for the protests.
“As a law enforcement agency, it is our duty to uphold and protect the constitutional rights of all,” said Wooten. “Through the continued granting of permits by the City of Elizabeth City, they have allowed and encouraged daily protests by a very small group of our community to impede the lives of our citizens.”
Wooten’s testimony continued: “The First Amendment provides the right to peacefully assemble; However, it does not entitle the holder to block roads or to be escorted by the law enforcement authorities. “
Wooten said the sheriff’s office will continue to assist city police “with major events and other law enforcement and general public safety-related situations.”
Elizabeth City Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe said city police will continue to provide the escorts.
“As long as the city government grants permits, we will power up as always,” Buffaloe said.
Buffaloe said when the protests first began, the sheriff’s office usually hired about 10 proxies to assist the escorts. That number had recently dropped to five, and the sheriff had told him the number would drop to zero starting this weekend.
When asked about the protest permits, City Director Montre Freeman said city officials are trying to strike a delicate balance between protecting the rights of protesters and protecting the safety of motorists.
Freeman said the U.S. Constitution allows a local government to regulate the time, place, and type of protests, but does not ban protests entirely. He said the city’s plan was not perfect – adding that there is no perfect plan – but hinted that the city is fairing everyone’s constitutional rights.
Authorizations for protests on Wednesday and Thursday had been granted by Wednesday afternoon, Freeman said.
Three MPs in Wooten’s department shot and killed Brown, who was in his vehicle, as they tried to obtain drug-related arrest and search warrants in Brown’s home on Perry Street on April 21 for the head that killed him.
District Attorney Andrew Womble announced last month that none of the MPs would be charged. Womble said he found Brown’s shooting was warranted for driving his vehicle for MPs and risking their lives.
Outrage over Brown’s death has sparked peaceful protests on the streets of Elizabeth City almost daily. All protests were accompanied by the police.
City and county officials said late last month that their law enforcement response to the protests cost a combined US $ 500,000. NC Highway Patrol, which also assisted the police in the first few weeks of the protests, said the cost to the state, including salaries and housing for soldiers, was more than $ 667,000.