Family And Mourners Celebrate The Life Of Andrew Brown Jr., Call For Justice
On Monday afternoon, mourners filed into the Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City, N.C. to remember the life of Andrew Brown Jr., the 42-year-old Black man killed last month by Pasquotank Sheriff’s deputies as they were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants.
“We are going to celebrate Andrew Brown Jr. today, but do not confuse the celebration with the determination to get justice,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, who delivered Brown’s eulogy. Brown “might have had a record, but he had a right to live his life,” he said.
Sharpton called out the names of other Black Americans killed by law enforcement officers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he responded to a controversial statement by Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina that “America is not a racist country.”
“What do you mean America isn’t racist? America was founded on racism,” said Sharpton.
Throughout the funeral — between exuberant gospel hymns and prayers — the prominent civil rights leaders and lawyers in attendance called for justice for Brown and his family. The event was a private celebration and members of the media were permitted to attend.
Ben Crump, a Brown family attorney who also represents George Floyd’s family, said at the funeral that there was barely time to celebrate the conviction of the officer who killed Floyd before he heard about Brown’s death.
CNN commentator and Brown family lawyer Bakari Sellers evoked the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, tracing a line through history.
Andrew Brown Jr.’s eldest son Khalil Ferebee said a public goodbye to his father. Ferebee has been outspoken in calling his father’s killing by law enforcement “an execution.”
“I love you, Pops,” Ferebee said on stage in front of mourners.
Brown’s son Jha'rod Ferebee described his father as his best friend.
Families affected by police violence attended the ceremony, including George Floyd's brother and sister, and Eric Garner's mother Gwen Carr, who has spent several days in Elizabeth City in support of Andrew Brown's family.
The funeral comes one day after public viewings for Brown in Hertford and Elizabeth City. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters marched through Elizabeth City once again, demanding accountability in Brown’s death. Sunday marked another consecutive day of protests in the community of approximately 18,000 residents where just over half the population is Black, according to 2019 U.S. Census data.
In his eulogy, Rev. Sharpton echoed continued calls from family, protesters and Brown family lawyers to “release the whole tape” in the Andrew Brown Jr. shooting. Family members and family lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter have viewed a 20-second portion of the footage from one of the multiple body cameras that captured the shooting.
A judge recently denied the immediate release of law-enforcement video of the shooting to the public.
WUNC's Liz Schlemmer, Laura Pellicer, and photographer Kate Medley contributed to this report.