His Tshirts protest against police violence against black people

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Casianne Beckford of Elizabeth City, NC, buys James Quattlebaum T-shirts at her table along Ehringhaus Street on Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Elizabeth City, NC Quattlebaum, of Charlotte, NC traveled nationwide in selling t-shirts protesting police violence against black people.

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James Quattlebaum was an enterprising young man in his twenties when he came up with the idea to travel to Los Angeles and sell t-shirts to rioters in the streets after three white police officers were acquitted after beating Rodney King.

He never imagined he could – or would need to – have a career printing T-shirts commemorating police violence against black people.

But there he was nearly three decades later, on the Ehringhaus Street side of Elizabeth City on Saturday and Sunday with two folding tables and 25 dozen fresh T’s. One showed a raised fist and the words “I am Andrew Brown”. Another bore the face of the slain man.

“We are in 2021,” said Quattlebaum. “Why am I still here doing this?” Why is this still happening? »

Brown, of Elizabeth City, was shot dead by Pasquotank County deputies on April 21 when at least seven officers came to his home to serve a drug trafficking warrant. A pathologist who examined the body for the family said Brown, who was in his car, was hit by at least five bullets, including one that entered his head from behind.

Protesters have marched through the city every night since the shooting, demanding that police release video of the incident. A natural entrepreneur, Quattlebaum threw a free shirt at a walker during a protest on Saturday afternoon outside her roadside stand, hoping she would put it on later and generate business.

Quattlebaum unfolded a shirt with a collage of photos on the back depicting dozens of black people who had been shot by police over the years. He pointed to one face after another that had launched one protest after another: I was there, he said, pointing to Breonna Taylor in Kentucky; Trayvon Martin in Florida, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Quattlebaum, who grew up in South Carolina and now lives in Charlotte, used to print her own shirts and had 200 employees helping sell them, but said, “It must have been too much.” So now it’s just him, and he pays someone to print the shirts, which he can have in hand three days after ordering them.

“Bad news comes to you fast,” Quattlebaum said, explaining how he heard about Brown’s shooting. He is a news junkie, and is particularly interested in political news, which he checks every night before sleeping.

Quattlebaum also sold shirts at major boxing matches and other sporting events, he said.

“I was living down the road,” Quattlebaum said. Today, at 55, he is tired of traveling and hotel rooms. He is particularly tired of running across the country after stories of black people being killed by the police.

“I’m tired,” he said. “I was tired a long time ago. But it’s always the same. »

Dan Kane contributed to this story.

This story was originally published May 2, 2021 4:54 p.m.

Follow more of our reporting on the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

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