Dozens rally from Rehoboth Bandstand to City Hall

Demonstrators gather and chant at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand Monday evening. (Special to the Delaware State News/Butch Comegys)

REHOBOTH BEACH — Rallies demanding justice for George Floyd continued downstate Monday when approximately 60 demonstrators protested peacefully at the Rehoboth Bandstand and then along Rehoboth Avenue to City Hall.

Protesters held signs high and chanted in unison as calls for “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe” rang out through the street. One mother marched with her young daughter, who held a freshly drawn sign that read “Fight for me!”

Nearly all protesters at the bandstand wore face masks.

Nigeria Asia Edwards of Millsboro lead many of the chants.

“The reason I think today is so important is because love is everything,” Ms. Asia Edwards said. “If we all keep hatred in our hearts, and if we just keep trying to bicker with each other, we’re never going to pass anything. We’re just going to keep repeating the self-destruction cycle.”

A group of demonstrators raise their fists in the air in support of the end to police brutality. (Special to the Delaware State News/Butch Comegys)

Most protesters, many who said they were from Delaware, heard about the demonstration on social media applications like Twitter and Snapchat.

While the Cape Gazette reported that organizer and Dover resident Martoryo Cannon canceled the event Monday afternoon due to a threat of looters and violent demonstrators making an appearance, dozens still gathered for the 6 p.m. protest.

Some store owners worried about their stores being looted and boarded up their doors and closed early in response. Quiet Storm owner Dale Loeser could be seen nailing boards to his door before the protest began.

“I’m worried that if tonight goes bad, this could be the end of my store,” Mr. Loeser said.

Amy Schnerr, general manager of the Tanger Outlets Rehoboth locations, said in an email they closed for safety reasons. “Out of an abundance of caution due to the risk of public protests, we have decided to temporarily close the Tanger Outlets location in Rehoboth for the safety of our guests, employees of our retail-partners, and Tanger employees,” she said.

A woman holds up a sign during the protest on Monday in Rehoboth Beach. (Special to the Delaware State News/Butch Comegys)

A large state police presence could be seen at multiple points on the Avenue and boardwalk before the protest began.

Delaware State Police troopers stationed along Del. 1, blocking entrances to the outlets with lights activated. Barricades restricted access, too, but no protesters were in the vicinity by nightfall.

Six mounted police officers were spotted at the outlet center’s northbound location.

Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot were among major retailers that also closed early Monday.

Speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, stopped downtown to catch a glimpse of the protests. Mr. Schwartzkopf said he was glad to see no vigilantes show up at the protest in Rehoboth.

“It’s very peaceful. These guys, they’re not going to cause a problem,” he said, gesturing to the crowd at the bandstand.

Mounted policemen patrolled outside the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach. (Submitted photo/Jack Dawson)

Protesters moved from the bandstand to march along the Avenue around 7 p.m., and down to Rehoboth City Hall. Demonstrators stood on the front steps there, leading more chants as police kept their distance in front of the Rehoboth Fire Department. One young protester rallied the crowds, demanding that protesters continue their activism past this demonstration. “Be the tick on their back!” she yelled in reference to the police.

Alyssa Wilcox from Milton and Shayla Cohen from Millsboro attended the protest to peacefully demonstrate.

“Black lives matter. They shouldn’t have to fight to live their life. For years, white people have tried to make that difficult,” Ms. Wilcox said. “We’re here to fight against that.”

“Being an ally is recognizing my own privileges and being able to use those privileges to give voice to people of color and those who can’t,” Ms. Cohen said. “As acts like this continue to happen every single day, change needs to happen.”

When asked about on race relations in Sussex County, Ms. Wilcox said she thinks race disparity thrives in the county.

“I think Sussex County is really bad with that because it is very conservative. It’s very much gun heavy,” Ms. Wilcox said.

Ms. Cohen added that she thinks the protest has brought people from around the state together.

“There’s been a lot of people saying that they’re going to come to the protest and be peaceful, so I think a lot of people are coming together in the area,” she said.

Mazina Aitzehanova, who moved to Lewes recently from Kazakhstan and peacefully demonstrated Monday, said she moved to the United States because she thought it valued freedom above all else.

“This is my first protest, actually. I think the message is really strong,” Ms. Aitzehanova said. “I’m not white, right, but we’re all equal, I think. Black lives matter, all lives matter, my life matters, your life matters. Everybody’s life matters.”