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Demanding justice

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Sussex Countian

Sussex County, like the rest of the country, saw its fair share of protests against police brutality last week.

The protests follow the May 25 death of 46-year-old George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. After Floyd said he couldn’t breathe multiple times, he lost consciousness and was later pronounced dead.

Chauvin was fired and has been charged with murder and manslaughter.

Mass protests against police brutality quickly spread throughout the nation. At least five occurred in Sussex County last week.

On Sunday, May 31, hundreds gathered at Soroptimist Park in Seaford and marched down Middleford Road.

On Monday, June 1, about 60 people amassed at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and marched down Rehoboth Avenue to the front of city hall and the police station.

On Tuesday, June 2, a handful of protesters gathered at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company.

On Wednesday, June 3, about 200 protesters assembled in front of the Sussex County Courthouse on The Circle in Georgetown.

On Friday, June 5, hundreds more stood along the western side of Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach.

There was a particularly large state police presence in Rehoboth Beach, where dozens of police vehicles waited on guard while the protests took place. No looting or rioting were reported. No arrests were reported in association with any of the protests in Sussex.

Police mingled with protesters amicably in most locations, most notably in Frankford, where officers from Frankford, Dagsboro, Selbyville, Ocean View and the state walked and talked with protesters.

Dylan Waters organized the protest in Frankford, where he’s lived his whole life.

“We were here, really, just to try and bring our community together,” he said.

Chelsea Delp, of Dagsboro, brought a homemade sign to the Frankford protest.

“A lot of us are raising kids, like myself, and I want to make sure she grows up in a better generation than I did,” she said.

In Georgetown, the protesters amassed behind a barricade police had assembled for the event. They held signs and chanted as traffic passed through The Circle. Several people spoke to the group, including Sussex County Democratic Committee Chair Jane Hovington, First State Community Action Center’s Bernice Edwards, Tony Neal, Lawrence Walston and organizer Tahara Johnson, all of Georgetown.

Marlon Blue, of Dagsboro, was at the Georgetown protest.

“I’m here to support the movement. I think a lot of people are fed up, we’ve heard so many stories similar to George Floyd’s and it’s just reached a tipping point. People really feel like they need to get their voices out. I believe we’ve had enough,” Blue said.

Protesters in Georgetown also openly discussed the rioters and looters taking advantage of the anonymity of large crowds in other areas.

“Hold the rioters just as accountable as the cops who kill black people,” sad Froilan Brittingham, of Millsboro.

Corrie Middleton, of the Angola area of Lewes, protested in Rehoboth Beach.

“It’s a shame that it has to come to this. We gotta do something. It touches my heart that so many people are out here supporting us,” Middleton said. “People can’t keep dying for nothing. I got kids, a son, and three grandsons. And if something was to happen to one of them I don’t know what I’d do.”

Next to him was Jill Roberts, of Milton. She held a sign that said “399 years of tears and fears. Enough!”

“It’s the shame it takes the tragic murder of a black person,” Roberts said. “But we’re here and we’re not going to take it anymore.”