Wednesday, June 3, 2020 marked nine days since the death of George Floyd -- an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
It also marked the fourth consecutive day of local protests in Wilmington-- aimed, like their nationwide counterparts, to call for an end to police brutality against black Americans.
The initial protest was held Saturday, May 30 by Black Lives Matter, as a peaceful afternoon gathering of community members at the 1898 Memorial Park. But things took a turn Sunday when local law enforcement fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had spilled into the streets. The night ended with a 10 p.m. curfew quickly implemented by Mayor Bill Saffo.
In the following days, some downtown stores boarded up windows in preparation for more chaos, but so far Wilmington hasn't seen much. City officials established a nightly 9 p.m. curfew on Tuesday -- and since then, tensions between the protesters and law enforcement have not escalated to physical damage or altercations.
Early Wednesday afternoon, the Wilmington Police Department announced a March for Peace event for community members and law enforcement to attend together, side-by-side. A group of over 100 marched together from WPD Headquarters to 1898 Memorial Park. Once there, various speakers -- including Donny Williams, the WPD Police Chief, who is black and grew up in Wilmington -- spoke on the need for unity, as well as police accountability.
Following that event was another protest at City Hall -- which saw law enforcement keeping a further distance from protestors than they had earlier in the day. But the event remained peaceful. Organizers kept people to the sidewalks and off the streets, and told fellow protesters to leave at curfew. People with medical experience were ready to assist for any medical emergencies. Food, water and face masks were in abundance.
Before protesters left at 9 p.m. Wednesday, the evening ended with a moment of silence. 9 minutes or so of quiet -- in recognition of the 8 minutes and 46 seconds an officer's knee was pressed to George Floyd's neck.
Visit WHQR's Facebook page for a daily evening live stream of the protests.