‘I am very concerned because this is not just a one-time thing.’ Community concerns draw crowds to Elizabeth City protests

Washington

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – A lot of eyes are watching closely with the events unfolding in Elizabeth City. 

9OYS spoke with Barbara Gaskins, who lives in Beaufort County. She was in Elizabeth City, peacefully protesting with Andrew Brown’s family and other groups, like Black Votes Matter and Emancipate North Carolina. 

Gaskins told 9OYS it was important for her to go because she also lives in a rural area and she feels like issues in smaller towns are often overlooked. There are growing concerns surrounding police-involved shootings, and she said Beaufort County is no exception. 

She recalls an incident when a Washington police officer shot and killed a man in 2018 during a traffic stop.

“I am very concerned because this is not just a one-time thing,” Gaskins said. “Beaufort County has history. We had Cedric Pritchard, who was shot in the back. I don’t know why it’s taking this national spotlight but these issues exist in these rural towns.”

Reverend Aaron Lewis serves as Beaufort County’s NAACP president. He understands these incidents are worrying people in his community. “I believe if we could just start working together, talking together, talking about the issue, rather than hiding the issue or avoid the issue. I believe that can help bring some things to the forefront.,” he says.

Madison Forsey’s report

Gaskins said she wants to see more of her community members getting involved in these conversations. She believes the best way people can do that is by participating in local elections to hold officials accountable.

“We put them in their positions so, you know, if they’re not being accountable, if they’re not, you know, accepting responsibility for their actions or the actions of their employees, then they need to be voted out and they can be voted out,” Gaskins said. 

This Thursday, there will be a Beaufort County Police Force Committee meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. at 136 W. 2nd St. Washington. Committee members will discuss law enforcement options for the county. Gaskins said she is calling on people in the area to show up and participate. 

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