Protesters march in Rehoboth Beach

Amid massive police presence, citizens demand justice
June 1, 2020

Protesters marched at the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach June 1, demanding justice for African Americans who have died at the hands of police. About 50 people carried signs and chanted “No justice, no peace,” as one protester read the names of people who have died in police custody.

Iyesha Bundu, a Delaware State University student, said she was tired of waking up every day having to pray for her relatives. “All of the men in my life are black, and they should not have to die for being black,” she said. “Black women and black men are looked at as scary, as ghetto, as angry, and I am angry now because black men and women keep dying every day.”

The protesters were met by a massive police presence in Rehoboth, with Delaware State Police troopers and vehicles stationed at every intersection along Rehoboth Avenue. Meanwhile, north of Rehoboth, troopers closed down entrances to all Tanger Outlet centers. Troopers also said state police mounted units were on site by 7:30 p.m.

At least 40 state trooper vehicles were posted along Route 1 at the outlets, as well as in the parking lots of Lowe’s and Home Depot, which closed early.

Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said she did not have a breakdown for how much the extra officers cost, but many were working their regular shifts. She said Tanger Outlets did not pay for the police security.

Speaking shortly after 6 p.m., Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks said his officers were joined by state police and officers from several other jurisdictions including Dewey Beach and Ocean View. Representatives of the Attorney General’s Office were also on hand, he said.

Banks said he was aware organizers had canceled the protest earlier in the day, but as it turned out, some protesters arrived anyway. “If they decide to have a protest, we’re here,” Banks said. “It’s about making sure everybody is safe,” he said. “If there are counter-protesters, we’re here to make sure it’s balanced and safe for all parties.”

He also said police will not tolerate destructive or violent behavior as has occurred in Wilmington and Dover. Banks said he had been on the phone all day talking with local businesses who were concerned about their stores. “Some said they were boarding them up,” Banks said.

By 8 p.m., the protesters had marched to the steps of Rehoboth City Hall, their ranks swelling to more than 75. They continued calling for justice and chanting the names of George Floyd and others who died as a result of police violence. In front of the nearby fire station, police maintained a quiet presence.

The protest ended peacefully and no incidents were reported.

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