May Day rally against racism held in Dover

DOVER — Across the country Americans turned out Monday — on May Day, a day celebrated in recognition of blue-collar workers — to protest President Trump and perceived policies of discrimination.

Delaware was no exception.

About 50 people gathered in front of the state capitol to speak out against what they see as racism and what they described as similar harmful views and policies.

Representatives from groups such as the Delaware NAACP, Delaware Law Enforcement for Progress, and Network Delaware were present.

“We wanted to address the real nasty xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism and misogyny that’s been in the air since the election season, and we wanted to tie racism with other forms of oppression,” said Matt Pillischer, director of racial and social justice for YWCA Delaware.

Some attendees at an anti-racism rally on Legislative Mall Monday held signs calling for change. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

Participants spoke of challenging the status quo and cooperating with other like-minded individuals to prepare the next generation and affect policy today.

Eugene Young with Network Delaware speaks Monday about preparing new leaders. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

“We are still in a fight for equality in this country, and it’s not just with one particular group, but we see it with the homeless and with the poor,” insisted Aaron Appling, pastor of Victory Church and a representative of Community Voice Coalition.

Speakers representing various causes ranging from helping female veterans to legalizing marijuana to making the country what they call a welcoming one for refugees, took the stage on Legislative Mall Monday during the hourlong event.

Around them, several people held signs calling for change while a Black Lives Matter flag fluttered in the breeze.

James Spadola, president of Delaware Law Enforcement for Progress, advocated changing policing to make it less punitive and ending law enforcement quotas.

James Spadola, president of Delaware Law Enforcement for Progress, called for ending arrest quotes Monday. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

“We need to encourage police officers to use discretion, and with quotas, we take that away from them,” said Mr. Spadola, who campaigned for a Wilmington-area Senate seat as a Republican last year. “We are letting sergeants and lieutenants at the station dictate what happens on the street. We are removing emotional capacity of the officer to make that decision, whether to arrest or, better yet, to develop an alternative to arrest.

“And to speak about Delaware specifically, we do have quotas. They are generally fluid and informal, but in Newark, there is a policy for six DUIs a year. And does that mean you’re going to get fired if after a year you don’t have six? No, but we did have two officers that were put on probation for not achieving their six DUIs.”

Several speakers mentioned preparing the younger generation to take

YWCA Delaware Racial and Social Justice Director Matt Pillischer speaks Monday at a rally against racism. (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

the reins and shape society, with specific focus on a more tolerant state and country. President Trump’s two executive orders banning citizens from seven countries in the Middle East or Africa from entering the United States were specifically mentioned, although other remarks did not cite the White House.

“This is part of an ongoing movement in Delaware where we hope to continue coming together, all these different groups. When we’re separate, we can’t do as much work, but when we come together our collective impact is really a huge thing,” Mr. Pillischer said.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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