Two demonstrations in Wilmington over the weekend. Both were about George Floyd – the black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week. Saturday afternoon’s was peaceful. Sunday evening’s turned into a confrontation. Just before 10 pm, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo declared a state of emergency and put a curfew in place until 6 am Monday morning. WHQR’s Vince Winkel was at both events and filed this report.
“All of those who are still in this location – are ordered to immediately disburse. If you remain this the area, you will be in violation of North Carolina General Statute 14-88 if you do not leave the area, you are subject to arrest or other police actions. Other police actions may include actual physical removal…”
Sunday night in downtown Wilmington. A 6 p.m. protest that started peacefully went out of control. By 9:45, the city had declared a state of emergency.
Throughout Sunday’s demonstration, which featured no speakers, the crowd broke out into chants.
“No Justice, No Peace. No Justice, No Peace….”
A 19-year old who helped organize the event spoke with me around 7:30, before police arrived.
She has asked her name not be used.
“I think that it's gone way better than I could have ever imagined the original Facebook group canceled the event originally. And so we had to let our, followers on Instagram know that it wasn't necessarily going to be safe, but we were going to be there. I think it's gone marvelously. It's still peaceful. I wish people weren't in the street, but we can't tell people how to protest when someone's been murdered.”
There had been confusion before the event. Some social media reported Sunday’s event was sponsored by Black Lives Matter. But BLM representatives quickly took to Facebook and Twitter to say they had not planned the event. Their event was Saturday afternoon.
For WHQR Video Feeds of the Demonstrations, go to WHQR's Facebook Page
Then it appeared the Sunday event was cancelled. Then word spread it was back on. Hundreds filled the sidewalk outside city hall, and slowly moved onto the street.
The apparent lack of organization did not bode well.
By 8:15, after protesters had blocked 3rd Street for around 45 minutes, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Deputies used smoke bombs to try to move the crowd along in front of Thalian Hall.
Police say multiple objects had been thrown at the New Hanover County Courthouse. Windows in the area had been shattered.
According to a tweet from the WPD, protesters were throwing fireworks at vehicles on Front and Princess Streets.
Inert gas also was deployed shortly before 9:30 p.m.
The event on Saturday was very different. Under a pouring rain, the crowd at the 1898 Memorial Park in Wilmington, was peaceful. Ashley Daniels was there. There was a message, she said, that everyone needed to hear.
“It seems like we are paying the price that our ancestors and ancestors before them have already paid. And it's frustrating and it is disheartening that we're not even talking about progress, right? We're not talking about equal opportunity. We're not talking about access to like decision-making. We're talking about specifically just simply not getting killed on the street.”
About 200 people attended the Saturday event.
In other parts of North Carolina this weekend, demonstrations turned to violence. Vandalism and looting prompted Governor Roy Cooper to offer National Guard assistance in places like Raleigh and Charlotte.
Vince Winkel, WHQR News.