Large crowds gather as curfew approaches
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Throughout the day, there were alternating moments of silence, chanting and reading of names of those who had died at the hands of law enforcement.
After sundown, WECT’s cameras began rolling during the final nine-minute silence.
The scene was powerful, and protestors were captivated by organizer, Lily Nicole.
Drivers honked horns and held up raised fists.
During the day, the moments of silence alternated with chants of, “I can’t breathe, hands up don’t shoot and no justice no peace.”
Earlier, Councilman Kevin Spears addressed the crowd briefly.
“This level of unity and support, particularly from young people is wonderful to see,” said Councilman Spears. “This level of momentum needs to push forward and be productive,” he added.
Tonight, there was a totally different vibe, especially during the moments of silence. People said Lily Nicole was responsible for the protests remaining peaceful.
The crowds have increased each night but, like last night at curfew time, people gathered their belongings and quickly dispersed.
Lily Nicole was feeling emotional and disappointed at the lack of public figures. She urged them to come tomorrow.
“The community is crying out,” she said. “They want people to listen; they want accountability. We want to feel protected and not persecuted in our own neighborhoods.”
There was a police presence as the crowds dispersed. Officers were on bicycles checking there were no pockets of people hanging around. Everyone was leaving and adhering to the 9 p.m. curfew.
Protestors left very quickly, even picking up trash as they left. It was a very calm and quiet dispersal, a quiet end to a peaceful protest. People could even be heard offering to escort others as they left.
As the crowds dispersed, Sheriff Ed McMahon was on the scene.
“What a beautiful night; what a beautiful crowd,” McMahon said. “It was amazing.”
He said that he and Wilmington Police Department Interim Chief Donny Williams hoped to reach out to the community in ten days or so.
“I hope we have earned the trust of our community,” McMahon said. “Don’t look at something across the country; look at us and judge us. Tell me things we can do better,” he added.
Earlier today, Williams and McMahon led a peaceful march from the police headquarters to the 1898 Memorial Park to unite with the community.
There may be a renewed faith in law enforcement but until people see action, they are going to want to make a statement.
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