After Roxboro Shooting, ‘Black Lives Matter’ Demonstrations Convene in Three NC Cities

A 'Black Lives Matter' mural painted in Charlotte this year. (Cardinal & Pine photo by Grant Baldwin).

By patmoran

July 31, 2020

Rallies held same day police released footage of David Brooks Jr.’s death last week.

On the same day Roxboro police released dashboard footage of police shooting and killing a Black man, hundreds of protesters marched in Raleigh in solidarity with Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Gaston and Person counties.

Forty-five-year-old David Brooks Jr. was killed last Friday in Roxboro after police responded to a 911 call that a man with a gun was walking down the street. 

According to The Raleigh News & Observer, police say they shot Brooks after he failed to drop his sawed-off shotgun, despite repeated commands.

Protesters in Raleigh pointed to the shooting, currently being examined by the NC State Bureau of Investigation, as proof that systemic change is needed.

“It’s … symbolic of the greater issue that’s happening across the country,” Cameron Crowder, an activist with the Working Class & Houseless Organizing Alliance in Greensboro told the crowd gathered in Nash Square in downtown Raleigh.

“This is a Black man who is supposed to have … a constitutional right to hold an arm, especially in the state of North Carolina, which is an open-carry state,” Crowder said, “He gets killed because Black people don’t actually have rights in this country.”

Lydia Sturgues-Robinson also addressed the assembled demonstrators. 

Sturgues-Robinson was in Gastonia July 20 with a group of demonstrators to call for the removal of a Confederate monument in front of the city’s courthouse. 

After claiming she received “unfair treatment” at Tony’s Ice Cream shop in downtown Gastonia because she was wearing a Black Lives Matter button, Sturgues-Robinson was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing, The Charlotte Observer reported. She was released on an unsecured bond.

“I came here today to beg for help,” Sturgues-Robinson l said. “I’m sorry to leave y’all so heavy like this, but I need help.”

Other protestors spoke about their experiences with racism before the crowd left Nash Square and started marching through the streets.

Protestors spoke out against police brutality in Portland, Ore. Some called out “Black Lives Matter” at a Raleigh Police officer.  Among their chants, the demonstrators also repeated David Brooks Jr.’s name.

At least one person was arrested for blocking an intersection and not following police commands to move to the sidewalk.

Someone vandalized the First Baptist Church near the state capitol, spray painting “David Brooks Jr.” on the side of the building.

Crowder told The News & Observer that he has been marching in similar protests regularly  since George Floyd was killed by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin last May. When asked about Brooks’ death, Crowder said he could not bring himself to watch the dashcam video that was made public that afternoon.

Fifty-five miles north of Raleigh, in Roxboro, Brook’s father David Brooks Sr. watched the footage alongside Roxboro Police Department officers before the video was officially released Wednesday afternoon. After watching the dash-cam footage, Brook Sr. disputed the police department’s version of events, saying the shooting should have been averted.

“I can’t get no sense out of this,” David Brooks Sr. told WRAL. “From one to three seconds of him getting out the car – my son was dead.”

In the video, an officer can be heard saying, “Hey bro, drop your gun.” As Brooks raises the weapon, two officers yell “drop your gun.” Then a shot is fired. The entire encounter lasts 5 seconds, from the time the first officer speaks to when Brooks falls to the ground.

There is no body-camera video, because Roxboro police do not provide officers with body cameras.

The two officers involved in the incident are on paid leave. The name of the officer who fired the fatal shot has not been released.

The Associated Press reported that it appeared Brooks pointed the weapon at an officer.

Protests sprang up Tuesday in Roxboro in response to the shooting. That same day, the Roxboro City Council issued a state of emergency, claiming that that it had come to their attention that an outside presence may try to disrupt the safety of the Roxboro citizens that evening, WTVD reported.

The council placed a two-day curfew in effect from 5 pm Tuesday to 6 am Wednesday and again from 7 pm Wednesday and 6 am Thursday.

About 50 protesters gathered Wednesday evening at the site of a memorial for David Brooks Jr. on Old Durham Road where Brooks Jr. was killed. Protesters began to disperse shortly after 7 pm.

Brooks Sr. may have the last word on protests in Raleigh and in his hometown.

“Justice will be served,” he told WRAL. “That’s the bottom line.” 


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