Calls for justice at funeral for Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City

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Monday, May 3, 2021
Andrew Brown Jr. funeral services on April 3
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Mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina, to celebrate his legacy and reflect on his life.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina, with eulogists celebrating his legacy and reflect on his life.

The invite-only service starting at noon in a church in Elizabeth City followed public viewings the previous day. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy, and other speakers included Brown's relatives as well as civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Brown's family, and the Rev. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People's campaign.

WATCH: Brown's family says they're overwhelmed and devastated

At 5:30 p.m. on ABC11, watch a half hour special event dedicated to the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. See exclusive interviews with Brown's family, new details in the investigation, the growing memorial in Elizabeth City, and the push to improve policing in North Carolina.

At the service, Brown's first-born son Khalil Ferebee was overcome with emotion, wiping away tears as he spoke.

"It's a terrible way we have to be together like this," he said. "But seeing everybody, I'm glad we're together like this right now, he would have loved this. And I just wish he was here with us."

Crump noted that Brown's shooting death came just days after the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

"We thought that George Floyd represented that we were going to stop this unnecessary and unjustifiable killings of black men," he said. "But we got the call here that harkened us to Elizabeth City and so, Andrew Brown's family, we are here to make this plea for justice because Andrew was killed unjustifiably, as many black men in America have been killed. Shot in the back going away from police. And because Andrew cannot make the plea for justice, it is up to us to make the plea for justice."

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"Too often we go to funerals of people who are unjustly brought to death. Don't confuse the celebration with the determination to get justice in this matter."

During Rev. Al Sharpton's eulogy, titled Sign of the Times, he spoke about the racial climate in America. "Andrew Brown Jr., if he did wrong, bring him to court. But you don't have the right to bring him to his funeral," said the reverend. "We must deal with the inequality in the criminal justice system, today. The challenge of these times is how we're going to deal with policing in America."

Sharpton addressed the legalities and justification of Brown's killing. "How is it legal to shoot a man in the back and talk about it was self-defense? How do you justify shooting a man who was not a threat to you? He was running away from you."

Family members of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Daunte Wright were also in attendance. They left the Brown family with words of comfort. "No matter the way it went, it was wrong," said Bridgette Floyd, sister of George Floyd. "I want you guys to know today, trouble don't last."

Activist Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, wanted to leave the family with love during this trying time. "If we're uncomfortable, we gotta make America uncomfortable, by standing up," said Carr.

"Andrew was a Black man trying to make it in a society where Black men were born endangered," said Rev. William Barber. "The blood is speaking because a warrant is not a license to kill."

Rev. Anthony Spearmam ended the service by saying Andrew Brown Jr. was a "human being and his Black life mattered."

Brown, 42, was shot and killed April 21 by deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants, sparking days of peaceful protests in the city in rural northeastern North Carolina. An independent autopsy commissioned by his family showed that he was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.

Family members have said that Brown was a proud father of seven, who was known for entertaining relatives with his stories and jokes.

Brown's family asked Sharpton to deliver the eulogy because they felt the civil rights leader would properly honor his legacy. Sharpton recently delivered the eulogy for Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota.

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