Hundreds in Rehoboth demand justice for George Floyd and change

Protestors rally along Del. 1 in Rehoboth Beach Friday demanding equality and justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Rallies for justice have been held daily throughout the state this week. Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

REHOBOTH BEACH — About 500 protesters stretching nearly a mile on the sidewalks from Outlet Liquors to County Bank held signs for onlooking drivers along Del. 1 near Rehoboth Friday.

The message of the demonstration resembled the multiple protests across Delaware this week as people demand justice for George Floyd and countless other unarmed black Americans who have been unjustly killed by police.

“I want everyone to know what it’s like as a black person in America, that we have to come together and fight to be recognized as humans,” said Jalyn Powell, a demonstrator from Milford.

Protesters faced the highway, holding signs that read “Say their names” and “No justice, no peace” among other signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. A chorus of car-honking in support did not let up until protesters began dispersing more than an hour later after 5 p.m.

Demonstrator Daniel Rosa of Lewes said in order to see change in the criminal justice system, people need to continue protesting.
“We need to put pressure on legislators and the police department, and reform across the whole institution,” Mr. Rosa said. “The more we show up and the more we protest, then the better chance we have at change happening.”

Protester Keira Smith said she was demonstrating for Robert Knox, a paraplegic African-American man from Harbeson who was fatally shot in his bed by two state troopers in 2018.

(Police were cleared in the investigation that followed.)

“He was paralyzed and was shot at so many times that they didn’t even recognize him. His family couldn’t go ID him. They didn’t have a [funeral] service and couldn’t go see him for weeks,” Ms. Smith said. “He was a part of our family.”

Another protester, Chamyra Upshur of Milton, said she was happy so see so much support from the coastal Delaware community.

“I was very proud of the allies we have here in Rehoboth, and that people are standing in solidarity with each other to let us know that yes, it’s not me, but I share the same sentiment,” Ms. Upshur said.

Friday’s protest was originally sponsored by two political groups in Sussex County, Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice and Women’s March Sussex, who both pulled out of the protest on Wednesday due to concerns that outside agitators would disrupt their message.

Despite that, hundreds still attended the demonstration, many saying they heard about the event on social media. Much like the protest at the Rehoboth Bandstand on Monday, no such crowd attended the Del. 1 demonstration.

Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe of Delaware State Police confirmed that protesters remained peaceful and did not clash with law enforcement.

“Everybody has been wonderful out here,” Cpl. Jaffe said. “We’ve had no issues so far, it has been extremely peaceful and we are so thankful for that.”

She reiterated that Delaware State Police supports all residents’ First Amendment right to protest.

“We understand this is their First Amendment right, and we are out here to protect that First Amendment right,” MC Jaffe said.
Mostly in-state residents attended Friday’s protest, according to Delaware State Police.

The protest was made up of a diverse age-range of protesters, but Ms. Powell said she wished she saw more people of color at the demonstration.

“What disappoints me is it’s not a lot of African-American turnout,” she said. “Most of the people out here are not of color. So, I think it’s important that we let our community know and our culture know that, in order to be seen, we have to be seen.”