ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — Seven people were arrested Tuesday night in Elizabeth City as protesters pushed back against Mayor Bettie Parker’s 8 p.m. curfew.
The curfew was added to the mayor's state of emergency order, in response to seven straight days of peaceful protests following the death of Andrew Brown Jr.
The community is calling for justice, accountability, and transparency in Brown's death. Pasquotank County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed Brown on April 21 while serving a warrant related to felony drug charges.
The emergency declaration went into effect at 8 a.m. Monday, and was set to last "until deemed no longer necessary." On Tuesday, city officials updated the emergency declaration to include a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Children, youth, and adults must be off city streets during those hours. The only exceptions are for people who have to commute to travel to work or if there's an emergency.
The daily protests in Elizabeth have so far been peaceful overall, with many on Tuesday expressing displeasure at the curfew. One woman called it "a slap in the face."
“Why are we being punished with a curfew?" asked June Gibbs, who was Brown's former elementary school counselor and cousin. "I feel like a curfew is for the ones that have done wrong."
Organizer Kirk Rivers said the move places an unfair label on protesters who have shown a track record of nonviolence.
"It’s a surprise and we are going to talk to the mayor," he said.
"Our Chief of Police reported to Management that there had been some 'rock throwing' Monday night," Mayor Parker said in an email to 13News Now reporter Eugene Daniel. "So, to be proactive and not wait until there is an escalation in the actions of some 'bad actors', we decided it would be wise to enact a curfew of 8:00 pm to 6:00 am until we observe, once again, total peaceful protesting. There are some exceptions, i.e. people traveling back and forth to work."
“This is not a good idea right now..." said Andre Simpson, who said he knew Brown. When he heard about the curfew, he immediately came to City Hall looking for city leaders. He predicted the move would cause unnecessary conflict in a peaceful situation.
“They want peace in this city. That’s what we want. That’s what we’re asking for. That’s what we’ll continue to do," Simpson said. "But if you close them at 8 p.m. they are not going home. They are not going home."
It looks like Simpson was right.
As of 9:55 p.m., about 30 protesters remained out, while Elizabeth City Police officers in riot gear have positioned themselves nearby, calling on them to disperse. Police said in a tweet that they have given their final warning and arrests will follow if the group does not disperse.
Police began making arrests shortly before 10:30 and by 10:51, they sent out another tweet saying the "crowd has dispersed at this time" and the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Water Street has reopened.
A Wednesday evening release from the department shared that the seven people arrested ranged in age from 25 to 62 years old.
The release said these protesters were told over loudspeakers to go home several times before the arrests were made.