How a Black Activist Went From Rising Star to Charged With Attempted Murder


When Quintez Brown was charged with attempting to murder the Democratic frontrunner to be the next mayor of Louisville on Monday, it marked a shocking turn in the life of a promising Black activist who disappeared last year before running for office himself.

The violent incident, likened to an assassination attempt, came after Brown veered toward increasingly radical politics in recent years, meeting just last week with a representative for a Black nationalist paramilitary group.

Brown, 21, is facing several charges, including attempted murder, after allegedly bursting into Louisville mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg’s office on Monday and opening fire with a 9mm Glock handgun. While none of the five people in the office were injured—a bullet did graze the back of the Democrat’s sweater—a judge on Tuesday set bail at $100,000 despite Brown’s lawyer pointing to mental-health issues and a lack of criminal history.

Brown pleaded not guilty, and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Attempts to reach his family on Tuesday were not immediately successful.

A former intern and editorial columnist of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Brown wrote in the paper that he had studied philosophy and Pan-Africanism while at the University of Louisville. There, he'd previously served as the opinion editor of the school’s newspaper, the Cardinal, and is an MLK Scholar.

After Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police officers during a notorious March 2020 raid, Brown found himself at the forefront of the city’s protests and wrote several columns in the Courier-Journal about social justice. He also founded From Fields to Area, a group advocating for political education and violence prevention training for city youth.

21-Year-Old Activist and Local Candidate Charged in ‘Attempted Assassination’ of Louisville Mayoral Candidate

Brown’s affiliation with Black Lives Matter and social-justice issues led to his being featured on MSBNC in 2018, where he spoke about wanting “common-sense gun reform.” He was also featured by the Obama Foundation as a “rising face,” and participated in the former president’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, becoming one of just 22 students nationwide invited to the inaugural gathering of the “My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.”

“I have seen the consequences of poverty and centuries of systemic racism and oppression, and I believe in the potential of everyone,” Brown said in in a statement still posted on the foundation’s webpage. “I cannot stand by silently while I see the lives and potential of my brothers and sisters be cut short due to systemic injustice. Our brothers need hope. Our brothers need positive role models. Our brothers need mentors.”

Social media posts from the last decade show Brown pictured alongside such luminaries as the Rev. Al Sharpton and Kentucky Senate candidate Charles Booker, a Democrat. In a 2021 Twitter post, Booker described Brown as “a brilliant young scholar” who spoke at his Senate launch years prior.

On Tuesday, Booker released a statement obtained by The Daily Beast acknowledging his link to Brown, whom he said he last saw in the summer of 2020. “The young man I knew then was working to end violence in our city, not carry it out,” Booker said. “The fact that he has now been charged with such violent acts is absolutely crushing.”

Noting that the investigation into the shooting was ongoing, Booker condemned it and stressed that “gun violence is a public health crisis.”

Sharpton did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

Ricky Jones, a professor of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville, described Brown as “an absolute star” and a “brilliant, brilliant kid” who he’d known since he was in high school. Also a friend of Greenberg, Jones said he did not think that Brown and the mayoral candidate knew each other. He said his first reaction when he heard about the shooting was “shock and sadness.”

“He is the last person on this planet I thought would do something like this,” Jones told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I have been teaching at the university for 26 years—and Quintez Brown was one of the most brilliant students I have ever had.”

Jones, who said that he hadn’t seen Brown in person since 2020, noted that one of his “biggest regrets” was not making an effort to see Brown after he briefly went missing last year.

“Something was going on with him then—and I should have tried harder,” he added.

But the police—and Greenberg—say that Brown’s actions on Monday were nothing less than terrifying. According to a police report first obtained by the Courier-Journal, Brown entered Greenberg’s campaign headquarters at around 10:15 a.m. and fired his 9mm almost immediately.

“When we greeted him, he pulled out a gun, aimed directly at me and began shooting,” Greenberg said at a news conference. “The individual closest to the door managed to bravely get the door closed, which we barricaded and the shooter fled the scene.”

Police say that Brown was found less than a half-mile from the campaign headquarters within 10 minutes. The arrest report states police found a loaded 9mm magazine inside his pants pocket and a handgun, handgun case, and additional magazines inside a drawstring bag.

While police have still not identified a motive for the shooting, Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields did note that cops were looking at all angles for answers.

“Mr. Greenberg is Jewish, so there’s that, we don’t know if it’s tied to the candidates or is political or if we are dealing with someone with mental issues or is venomous,” she told reporters on Monday. "We are looking at this from all angles."

Brown’s defense lawyer, Rob Eggert, insisted to a judge on Tuesday that his client’s clean criminal record and strong ties to the community should be a case for his release despite the violent allegations. Noting that Brown has a history of mental health issues—and that he plans to have him evaluated—Eggert also pointed to the fact that the defendant is still a senior in college.

However, the judge ultimately concluded that Brown was a danger to the community and set his bail higher than what prosecutors originally asked for.

Brown’s more recent social media posts, particularly the accounts associated with his campaign for a seat in the Louisville Metro Council, show an increasing interest in Black nationalist and pan-Africanist leaders. He frequently posted photos and quotes of the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichael, George Jackson, and late Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah.

“We have one scientific and correct solution, Pan-Africanism: the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism,” his Twitter bio reads.

He even appeared to urge followers last week to join the Lion of Judah Armed Forces, a gun-toting group whose leadership has voiced ideas similar to those of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The latter anti-Semitic ideology holds that Black Americans, not Jewish people, are the true descendants of the Biblical Hebrews. Adherents of the BHI movement were charged with murdering four Jewish people at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City in 2019.

A local spokesman for the Lion of Judah Armed Forces told The Daily Beast he first met with Brown last Thursday, though he said the accused never became a member of the group. He affirmed the organization’s Black Hebrew Israelite beliefs, but maintained they did not endorse the attack or have any foreknowledge of Brown’s plans.

“We are terribly heartbroken over what appears to have been a humongous lapse in judgment,” the spokesperson said. “The Lion of Judah Armed Forces in no way advocates anything of this nature.”

In January, shortly after filing to run for the Metro Council, Brown posted a “Revolutionary Love Letter” to his Medium account, in which he expressed his disaffection with mainstream politics and politicians.

“By expecting someone else to take full responsibility for our liberation, these reactionary so-called Black leaders are committing an act of political suicide,” he wrote. “The revolutionary consciousness of the masses must understand that the struggle against the negative forces of genocide and fascism will not end at the ballot box of the ruling class. Attempting to get within one of the two major parties has caused our leaders to become co-opted with their interests shunted to the background.”

Kentucky records show that Brown’s campaign for Metro council had yet to report raising any funds.

In addition to his social justice work, Brown also garnered media attention when he was the subject of a missing person’s investigation last year. According to local reports, Brown went missing in late June 2021 for about two weeks, prompting a citywide search. After he was found safe, Brown’s parents asked for privacy, noting they were focusing on Brown’s “physical, mental, and spiritual needs.”

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