Following three separate acts of hate toward members of the Cape community, individuals and groups rallied together to say “Hate Has No Home Here.”
A Nov. 21 webinar hosted by the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice featured nearly 20 speakers, from the highest levels of government to young children, expressing their frustration and what they’ve learned about the recent events.
The next day, about 50 people gathered along Savannah Road in Lewes to protest hate and promote positivity, hope and love.
U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester said hate is as old as time, but so is love.
“While those shouts of racism, sexism and xenophobia ring loud, our chorus of voices joined in activism, policymaking, song, prayer and joy must ring louder,” she said. “While those acts of cowardice can instill fear in their wake, our acts of love must inspire hope. And while those wishing us ill seek to divide us, we must choose instead to unite like never before.”
On Nov. 13, Charlotte King and Aimee Wiest discovered someone had used weedkiller to chemically burn the word “Trump” into the front yard of their Wolfe Pointe home. The couple had previously displayed a Biden/Harris sign, a Black Lives Matter flag and a yard sign that says “Enough Is Enough.” King is also the chair of SDARJ, which aims to educate, inform and advocate for racial justice, equality and fair opportunity. The incident is under investigation by the Delaware State Police.
“This disturbing act is unfortunately all too emblematic of the depth of hatred and anger some people harbor in our state and in our nation,” said Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Why is it that the simple declarative sentence ‘Black lives matter’ is so often met with ‘But white lives matter’ or ‘But all lives matter’ or ‘But blue lives matter’? All of which is true. When are we going to come to a reckoning with the fact that that ‘but’ has no place in that simple declarative sentence? We will come to that reckoning when we realize it is centuries of racial injustice that make people ignorant to the power and the truth of that simple declarative sentence.”
King said the person or group responsible failed to intimidate her, but instead energized her to continue her work for racial justice and equality.
“I’m so saddened that so many Americans despite their access to unlimited opportunities, despite their life of privilege and entitlement, despite living in this wonderful country, are blinded by ugly hate, willful ignorance and dangerous rhetoric,” she said. “Citizenship demands responsibility to each other and loyalty to our country, not to an individual.”
Denise Kirn, owner of Ryan’s Beach Shop for 23 years on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, has been a supporter of SDARJ and of the Black Lives Matter movement. She offers SDARJ merchandise for sale in her store while flying a Black Lives Matter flag outside. She said she and her staff have been harassed because of their support.
“The anger that the signage and those slogans seem to generate is different than anything we’ve ever heard about the Pride signs,” she said.
While she understands why some businesses may shy away from showing support in order to appeal to everyone, she issued a challenge to the business community to bring attention to racial injustice and promote equality.
“Don’t be afraid of losing business,” she said. “Lead with your values and business will follow.”
The LGBTQ community was also targeted in recent online attacks.
On Nov. 14, a virtual program by Rehoboth Beach author and gay activist Fay Jacobs was interrupted by three people wearing MAGA hats who began screaming obscenities, showing a Ku Klux Klan video of cross burnings and projecting ear-splitting sounds.
Then on Nov. 15, now former Assistant Fire Chief Bill Henry Buckaloo used a homophobic slur in a Facebook post to describe a drag show he attended at the Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach. Buckaloo, who has since apologized, has been suspended and awaits a hearing before the department’s disciplinary committee.
CAMP Rehoboth Executive Director David Mariner said his organization is committed to building bridges. CAMP Rehoboth will host a meeting this week with members of the Lewes Fire Department, Buckaloo and some folks harmed by his post. Mariner said it will be an opportunity for healing and growth.
“These incidents are incredibly disheartening [and] saddening. They are not the whole story of our community,” he said. “You have all built an incredible place where incidents like this are the exception; they’re not the norm.”
Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, said she is offended by the actions of many people who hide behind the scenes on social media and seek to undermine basic freedoms. She said the issue is not about race, sexual orientation or gender identity, but that it’s about the need for tolerance and acceptance.
“This isn’t about a political party or one ideology; it’s much deeper,” she said. “We have to be able to teach people how to deal with disappointments, and how to do that in a much more productive and more engaging manner.”
Those who disagree should be able to come together to have a civil discussion with respect for one another, she said.
The Rev. Eunice Dunlap of All Saints’ Church and St. George’s Chapel said the Bible lays it all out, and Christians are set on a path to treat all with respect and love from the day they are baptized.
“We make the promise to seek and serve the presence of God in all persons and to love our neighbors as ourself. There are no exceptions to this promise,” she said. “This promise is made to God in how we will treat every sentient being on the planet.”
Christians also promise to strive for justice and peace for all people, she said.
“Christians have a mandate to fulfill these promises in their life journey regardless if we look alike, think alike, love alike, speak alike, pray alike or vote alike. There are no loopholes. Acts of hatred and bigotry go directly against the promises we’ve made with God.”
The hour-long webinar can be viewed on the Facebook page of Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice.