What really happened after peaceful Rodney Square protest erupted into violence and destruction

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In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, who was in police custody at the time of his death, citizens of all colors and nationalities have come together to protest the police misconduct and attack on it’s citizens all around the country.

Wilmington (DE): It is no surprise that we are hearing about yet another tragic incident involving a man of color and a police officer. Citizens have been protesting in-custody deaths for decade,s yet their voices seem to go on silent ears – the ears of their elected officials who they expected to stand up and join them to make change for better relations with police in the community.

George Floyd, a 46 year old African-American man died after being taken into custody by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday May 25, 2020. Footage of the arrest shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was pinned to the ground by Chauvin and three other officers. All four officers were fired a day after Floyd’s death. Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

The key events that led to Mr Floyd’s death happened within just 30 minutes. Based on accounts from witnesses, video footage and official statements, here’s what we know so far.

Police were called to a store for a report of a man who used a counterfeit $20.00 bill. The store employee who has not been identified told police that he believed the bill was fake after receiving the bill from Floyd for a purchase of cigarettes. When the employee confronted Floyd about the fake bill and demanded the cigarettes back, Floyd refused and left the store. That’s when the employee, whom the store owner says was just following protocol, called the police.

George Floyd was a regular at Cup Foods. He was a friendly face, a pleasant customer who never caused any trouble, the store owner Mike Abumayyaleh told NBC.

But Abumayyaleh was not at work on the day of the incident. In reporting the suspicious bill, his teenage employee was just following protocol.

The employee said the man appeared “drunk” and “not in control of himself”, the transcript says.

Shortly after the call around 8 Pm., two police officers arrived. Floyd was sitting with two other people in a car parked around the corner. After approaching the car, one of the officers, Thomas Lane, pulled out his gun and ordered Floyd to show his hands. In an account of the incident, prosecutors do not explain why Lane thought it necessary to draw his gun. Prosecuters say Lane “put his hands on Floyd, and pulled him out of the car”. Then Floyd “actively resisted being handcuffed”.

George Floyd was restrained by officers, while Chauvin placed his left knee between his head and neck. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd said repeatedly, pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please”.

For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, the prosecutor’s report says.

In a call to 911 made at 8:01, the employee told the operator he had demanded the cigarettes back but “…he [Floyd] doesn’t want to do that,” according to a transcript released by authorities.

George Floyd 911-transcript

In wake of Floyd’s death, people of all colors and nationalities have come together to demand justice for Floyd, as well as a demand for change once again. Most of the protests have started out peaceful, but reports are now surfacing from some sources claiming either anti-fascism groups or alt-right groups are blending in with peaceful protesters causing destruction in cities all across America with violence, destruction, looting, and attacks on citizens of all color and nationalities who are marching and standing with them in their fight for justice and change.

Delaware was no exception to protests. On Saturday around 11 Am., a rally got underway at Rodney Square where about a dozen people attended, but as the rally got underway, it quickly grew into hundreds.

The stationary rally remained peaceful for the most part. That was until it was all over. Then a march began down 10th street towards N. French Street.

As the protesters made their way towards the State Building on N. French street, where they stopped briefly and then moved on towards the City/County building, they began shouting “No justice, no peace.” They remained in front of the City/County building for about 10 minutes, standing on top of balconies and steps. We saw one protester in the top level of the federal building waving his hand in the air in support.

A planned peaceful rally got underway at Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware Saturday May 30, 2020 around 11 Am, but when it was over, it became clear as day became night that the protest was becoming more and more violent that led to destruction, chaos, and looting.The march then proceeded on towards 8th Street and turned in the direction of N. Walnut Street, where they clashed with a Wilmington police cruiser. There, they stayed for several minutes encircling the cruiser while chanting and waving signs. Other police cruisers stayed away, and Chief Robert Tracey was seen on foot with two other officers and the event organizer who was trying to get the crowd to keep it peaceful. It is unknown if there was a police officer in the cruiser at the time or if the cruiser was damaged.

As the march continued on, it became clear there was no predetermined march route and the group made some confusing turns back up towards N. King Street towards the Market Street mall area, finally arriving at Wilmington Police Headquarters at 2nd and N. Walnut Street around 2:00 PM.

When our news crew got to the scene, a massive crowd was outside Wilmington Police Headquarters. Some standing on the steps leading up to the main doors, where there were several police officers lined up. On the inside of the building stood police in riot gear. Chief Tracey was also seen with another high ranking officer trying to talk to people in keeping it peaceful. The event organizer was also seen standing on the side of police as he screamed and waved his hands to calm the crowd, but some in the crowd weren’t having it. A few protesters threw plastic bottles at the chief and the other officers as others screamed obscenities at them.

A planned peaceful rally got underway at Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware Saturday May 30, 2020 around 11 Am, but when it was over, it became clear as day became night that the protest was becoming more and more violent that led to destruction, chaos, and looting.

A protester was seen crossing the barriers and knelling down in front of an officer. There, they let him stay for several minutes. Then, the high ranking officer was seen asking him to step back, but the protester, many of whom remained silent, refused. The officer then signaled other officers to remove him after several more minutes. A couple of officers from the line began removing the protester while riot police came storming out to provide protection as they aggressively took the man back into police headquarters.

The man was released back into the crowd several minutes later. We do not know if the protester was charged and released, or why police took him inside police headquarters.

A Protester who crossed the barriers is arrested at Wilmington Police Department in Wilmington Delaware Saturday afternoon during a protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

After protesting at the police headquarters, the crowd began moving on down N. Walnut Street towards the S. Walnut Street bridge, where we met up with Rachelle Wilson, who said, “This is an amazing thing. It’s not that we agree with what we are seeing and hurting people, and it’s not all one particular nationality. It’s about a mind set that we are protesting against. We are protesting against a mind set that a particular uniform, or badge, or authority means that you can kill people, and we’re standing for the United States government to recognize that anyone who commits murder, including any nationality, [sic]you have to be held accountable for that.”

The march was seen at the bottom of the bridge blocking traffic and throwing bottles and other projectiles at police cruisers at S. Walnut & A Street. A young woman hung out of a vehicle’s sun-roof with her hand in the air in support of the protesters. After the police cruisers left the area, all resumed to peaceful marching until a protester with a baseball bat began beating out a traffic camera, then proceeded to pull out street signs from the ground. Suddenly, the group began turning on the media.

We began being surrounded after a young woman began screaming at us, “this is peaceful”, “this is peaceful, why are you only recording this?” She went on several minutes as a small group began surrounding us, some protesters began signaling the group to move on but she kept on us as we slowly backed out of the area with the help of a couple young men coming to attempt to diffuse the situation. As we turned our backs and began to walk away, there were a few projectiles thrown at us.

Unfortunately, not all media crews covering the events was as lucky as us. We later learned that a WDEL reporter who was filming and reporting the protest events live was attacked, punched in the face, and had his equipment stolen after a group of protesters asked him twice if he supported them. Both times the reporter answered saying, “I’m just here reporting.” and that’s when they attacked him. This is not just in Wilmington. We’re getting reports of attacks on the media all across America and now we are learning that protesters are not the only ones attacking the media. Police and National Guards are attacking them as well.

Citing unspecified “police intelligence,” Gov. John Carney on Monday blamed out-of-state actors for escalating Saturday’s police brutality protest in Wilmington, mentioning that a Washington state resident instigated one incident intending to provoke violence.

As the daylight slowly disappeared into the night, protesters marched into the Trolley Square neighborhoods causing destruction and chaos and smashing out car windows. It seemed the later it got, the more violence against property and citizens.

The group arrived back on the Market Street Mall, where they began smashing out business windows, breaking into businesses, and causing total chaos. By 9 PM, they clashed with police in riot gear for several hours.

According to Wilmington Police spokesman Dave Karas, “Early Sunday morning, we arrested two men for resisting arrest and two others on burglary, shoplifting and criminal mischief charges.”

According to one self-proclaimed organizer’s statements to another media outlet (WDEL), he and others had headed home only to find out about the violence and looting while it was already happening and spoke out against the destruction being caused.

“Talk with no action is cheap. But talk can also change the world. It is better to talk about how we can all act to make the changes needed to promote opportunity and equality and close the racial divide.” Said Mayor Mike Purzycki. “We are frustrated by the continual lack of progress in closing a racial divide that is repeatedly ripped open instead of being narrowed or healed. We are frustrated that we, those in authority by elective office or other appointment, have thus far been unable to fix a society that enables inequality and poverty.”

Gov. John Carney addressed a group of reporters on Market Street on Sunday morning, acknowledging that much of the damage to a handful of bad actors. He said Wilmington police “did amazing under very difficult circumstances.”

“We need to be resilient, and we also need to address the serious issues that gave rise to the destruction,” Carney said.


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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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