In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the protests began in Wilmington on May 30 with a gathering at 1898 Memorial Park. The next day, they moved to the steps of Wilmington City Hall. Every day and night since, people have gathered with signs protesting racism and police brutality. One voice has stood out from the crowd.
For almost two weeks, protesters have been out every day and night on the steps of Wilmington’s City Hall. There have been signs, chants, and impassioned speeches.
The crowd has been black and white and brown...young and old. Lily Nicole has been there almost the entire time. On the first night, she saw a void in leadership...and felt that she could fill it.
“Nobody else was honestly, nobody else was. And I was worried about our community on Sunday, Sunday night. Sunday afternoon, actually, there was people saying that a bunch of students were trying to gather and do a protest, but there was no official like leaders or community people behind it.”
That first Sunday night, May 31, things did not go well. Police were called in. Wearing riot gear. In the nights since then, Lily and her colleagues have worked to change that. They’ve secured permits, and have kept the peace.
“I feel like our people who are gathering definitely get it, definitely get it. Even the students, they have been holding it down during the daytime hours, shout out to them. We've had high school students, college students like totally love the day control. And my nighttime crew, like most of these guys have been going strong. So the community getting the message, I don't think was ever the problem. It was literally the people in the doors that won't open. But the community getting it, that was never the issue. They're living it. They totally get it.”
A few nights into the demonstrations, Lily ended the evening by leading the crowd through nine minutes of silence.
“We shut down 3rd Street. So we could do the last nine minutes of silence...”
The long silence represents the amount of time that a Minneapolis police office had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. Each minute, Nicole or another leader calls out a phrase that Floyd said in his last moments:
“My neck hurts”
“I need some water”
“I can’t breathe”
“They are going to kill me”
George Floyd was buried in Houston on Tuesday.
Lily Nicole says the message is getting through.
And the protests will continue.
Vince Winkel, WHQR News.