WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department are receiving high praises from an unlikely source.
Deborah Maxwell, President of the New Hanover County NAACP is often at odds with the law enforcement agencies but applauded what both departments did to prevent Sunday’s protest in downtown Wilmington from getting out of control.
“When we woke up this morning (Monday), we still had a city that we could recognize,” Maxwell said. “It wasn’t burned. It wasn’t torched. It wasn’t beaten and that’s what that thanks was for at that time. We didn’t become an Atlanta, we didn’t become Fayetteville, we didn’t become a Raleigh.”
Sunday's protest started peacefully but turned violent with windows of at least one police cruiser smashed and at least three businesses damaged. Still, Maxwell says Wilmington escaped the destruction other cities across the country have seen because of the actions of law enforcement on the scene.
“They were accommodating to allow an unregistered event to be held,” Maxwell says. “To allow residents to express their feelings and emotions about the event that occurred in Minnesota because please recognize if I have an unregistered event, I don’t have an event.”
Maxwell posted her praise on social media. While many joined in on the salute, critics questioned why she didn’t address police showing up from the start in riot gear which they suggested could have incited a riot.
“I asked those individuals to look over what has happened the last couple weeks across this country. So did you really think they were going to say ‘oh--let’s come out here in regular gear--and then let’s go back and get the riot gear?’ When you’re working in a situation like that, you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But unfortunately we did not have the best but we did not have the worst because everyone lived to go home until another day.”
While Maxwell says she wanted to publicly recognize law enforcement for their efforts Sunday, she is quick to point out there are still unresolved issues she intends to address as head of the NAACP.
“I may not always agree with them because given the case of Mr. Floyd, they have been contacted prior to this event about some things that I must deal with and address with them,” she says. “And because of all of this happening now, it has been pushed back a little but there are some points of interest with them that I must follow as the branch president not only with the sheriff’s department, the police department and our district attorney.”