The day after protests turned violent in downtown Wilmington on Saturday, about 120 people turned out for a second night of rallies – this time on French Street in front of the Louis Redding City County Building.
While this peaceful group assembled Sunday in Wilmington, another looted the Dover Mall after sunset, prompting a curfew by the town’s mayor.
A group calling itself “We Still Can’t Breathe (March for George Floyd & Breonna Taylor) is planning a protest against police brutality this Friday, June 5th at Tubman Garrett Park from 6 to 7:30 pm in Wilmington. The group has formed a Facebook page where 780 people say they plan to attend and more than 2,000 are interested.
That group asks others to join their effort in support of #GeorgeFloyd and “ALL of our unarmed black and brown brothers and sisters who have been brutally accosted and murdered.”
Ralliers are encouraged to bring signs, posters, COVID masks, and friends and family members. Planners say they hope the event will be “a peaceful, civil protest.”
Referring to the percolating unrest, one City of Wilmington employee said today, “We know it’s not over yet.”
At the same time, Christiana Mall announced that “as a safety precaution,” it would not be opening to shoppers on Monday as planned. The mall hasn’t indicated when it will open.
Operators of the state’s largest mall that draws consumers from a multi-state area said the decision to postpone the reopening was precautionary – in light of last night’s violence. Delaware malls and retailers have the ability to open tomorrow at 30% of capacity for shoppers.
The Concord Mall also shared on Facebook on Monday that they are postponing their opening to June 2.
Earlier on Sunday, the Hockessin Business Association warned its members on Facebook that State Police Troop 6 said there was a chance of rioting of some type in that area tonight and that businesses should take precautions.
Saturday’s violence stemmed from protests in response to the death of an African American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police.
Participants in Sunday’s rally in Wilmington were a more subdued group than many of the younger individuals seen in video committing crimes last night on Market Street, including destroying storefronts and stealing cell phones, sneakers and liquor.
Several politicians including U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Attorney General Kathy Jennings were on hand at tonight’s rally, which had some similarities to a town hall, largely listening to the proceedings.
Community activist Keith James encouraged a “respectful dialogue” with legislators.
One attendee shouted concerns about the likely loss of jobs and camps for young people this summer due to COVID-19, while another responded that he didn’t care “about elections or summer camps” and said the rally had lost its focus.
That individual said police are at the root of protests around the country and at the core of last night’s violence.
“This is about the police feeling they can do whatever they want to us. They are routinely following blacks [in cars] for 8 to 10 minutes and looking for ways to arrest us. If you live in a poor neighborhood like I do, and you carry a gun to defend your family, then you will run into trouble with the police,” he said.
Congresswoman Lisa-Blunt Rochester spoke to the crowd saying she personally identifies with their concerns and said, “America is a rich country… built on a shaky foundation.” She vowed to “keep coming back” to help other voices be heard.