Close to 400 people gathered to hold a vigil for George Floyd in downtown Delaware Friday.
During the gathering, people stayed socially distant while holding signs and candles to remember George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died last week when Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes while in the process of arresting him. A video of the arrest went viral, which sparked protests and demands that Chauvin be criminally charged.
Protests to remember Floyd and to call for an end to police violence were held nationwide last week, including in Columbus.
As for the local vigil, it was organized by Lisa Ho, a Delaware resident. During the short vigil, residents lined the sidewalks on Sandusky Street and Central Avenue. A long moment of silence was held in Floyd’s memory.
Ho said she created the event in hopes the community could mourn together.
“It was really the desire to help create space for our community to collectively grieve the loss of George Floyd and events of the past week,” she said.
Ho added she hopes drivers who passed the event saw “(there) are many in our community who believe black lives matter and that black bodies are sacred, and we will not stand by while they continue to be murdered.”
The event started small on Facebook, and Ho said she was “humbled” when she learned that 381 people came to the vigil.
“We were humbled and moved by how many people in our community showed up on Friday,” she said. “We have hosted a number of marches, rallies, and vigils over the past few years and this was the largest gathering by far. I believe there is no greater crisis in our country today than white supremacy and how it terrorizes people of color, particularly black people.”
Shannon Griffin, a Delaware resident, was one of the attendees Friday. She held a sign that read: “Rest in Power, George Floyd.”
Griffin said the cause is important and personal to her.
“My husband is black, and I have 3 brown sons,” Griffin said, adding she was there not only for George Floyd, but for every victim of racial violence and police brutality. “I’m here to show solidarity.”
Local business owner Eric Cloud said he came to the event to help support the cause of ending police brutality.
“There’s a lot of love out here,” Cloud said. “Delaware has no place for hate. Change has to come.”
Local educator Mary Lewis said the video of Floyd’s arrest and death “emotionally disturbed” her.
“I’ve been a part of injustice,” Lewis said. “This just strikes to the core of me.”
Lewis said she worries about her son, who is black and works as a mover, because he has to walk up to strangers’ doors.
“(Injustice) started for him at 16,” Lewis said, adding that her son was no longer perceived as a boy but as a dangerous man.
Lewis, who teaches kids, said children aren’t born racist, they have to learn it from others.
“There’s no room for it anymore,” she said.
While Ho was encouraged by how well the vigil was attended, she added the fight must continue.
“This event was only one way for us to address the crisis that our country is facing right now,” Ho said. “There is so much more we need to do. We encourage everyone to follow the Delaware African American Heritage Council on Facebook to see how they can get involved and tackle the issue of systemic racism in Delaware.”
Another group of locals is currently planning a peaceful protest for scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in downtown Delaware. Organizers state on the Facebook event page — “Peaceful Protest for George Floyd and the Black Community” — that the goal of the protest is “everyone coming together for a common cause, peacefully. To show support. Not to riot and loot and tear things up, but to show that we can come together as one.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.