A clean-up effort that included volunteers took place on Market Street in downtown Wilmington on Sunday after protests over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.
Downtown Visions, the agency that provides cleaning and downtown ambassador services in Wilmington was active in the effort that comes on the eve of many retail businesses being able to fully open their doors on June 1.
Some vandalism was reported in Little Italy and the Trolley Square areas.
On Sunday, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President and former Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the area with the campaign posting the following via Instagram.
On Saturday night a crowd gathered on Market Street after a peaceful protest earlier in the day that for a time blocked I-95 northbound and southbound.
Police beefed up their presence on Market Street in response to a crowd milling around stores in the area at around 6 p.m., WDEL reported. The crowd broke up, with elements moving down Market and side streets.
Reporter Sean Green had his phone stolen and was punched in the face.
The radio station confirmed the incident and also noted that another reporter,Mike Phillips also had his phone stolen and but was not injured. “Both are safe, and we’re proud of their courageous efforts to keep their communities informed,” the media outlet reported.
If anyone saw that on facebook live, yes I was punched in the left eye at 5th and Market in Wilmington #netde
— Sean Greene (@SeanGreeneWDEL) May 31, 2020
In neighboring Philadelphia, a curfew was imposed after looting
Delaware Gov. John Carney issued the following statement:
“I’ve heard the anger and frustration from so many Delawareans in the days since George Floyd’s death. I share that anger.But these random acts of vandalism against small businesses, and this violence in our city, is unacceptable and counterproductive. It’s an insult to the cause and it needs to stop. In the days and months ahead, we all need to commit ourselves to healing the racial discord and addressing the systemic inequality that gives rise to it. But we need to do so peacefully and in good faith.”
An earlier statement was issued by Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, City Council President Hanifa Shabazz, Council Public Safety Committee Chair Loretta Walsh, and CouncilPublic Safety Committee Vice Chair Chris Johnson. (See video)
Wilmington Police, in riot gear and using an armored vehicle, moved through the area.
Police moved to contain the damage and and guard at the DTLR Villa clothing and sneaker store that had previously been entered.
Looting was reported along Market Street, with mobile phone stores entered and glass broken at a Starbucks, with one report of individuals entering Al’s Sporting Goods store and taking athletic gear.
An individual threw an object that damaged a window at Merchant Bar in the lower Market Street (LOMA), WDEL footage showed.
Protests have spread throughout the nation following Floyd’s death that came when a Minneapolis officer was seen stepping on his neck for more than eight minutes.
— Sean Greene (@SeanGreeneWDEL) May 30, 2020
Wilmington has a troubled racial history. Riots after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. led to one of the longest peacetime occupations by the National Guard.
The Guard also occupied the campus of Delaware State University.
Social media comments on WDEL reflected the persistent racial divide in Delaware with whites urging more forceful action by police and some even calling for the National Guard to be called.
Others criticized the violence, but said they understood its origins.