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Wilmington businesses 'picking up the pieces' after night of protest

A day of peaceful protest in Wilmington Saturday over the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer turned destructive as night fell. Businesses started cleaning up Sunday morning. 

Most of the property damage occurred on Market Street, where at least a dozen storefronts were shattered. 


Owners and employees swept the sidewalks Sunday morning and cut sheets of plywood to fit in windows. By 8 a.m., statements of protest had already been wiped from signs in front of the Grand Opera House. A T-Mobile stood open to the street, its interior in disarray. An alarm blared inside another store.


Credit Sophia Schmidt
Sophia Schmidt
Statements of protest were wiped from Grand Opera House signs by about 8 a.m. Sunday morning

“Broken windows, broken door, broken case,” said Bret Morris, owner of A.R. Morris jewelry store, as he swept up. 


Morris, who is white, estimates his Market Street store sustained about $25,000 worth of damage. 


“But the bigger issue is really how it’s going to pan out with people wanting to come to the City of Wilmington and how businesses are going to move forward,” he said, noting businesses are already struggling to recover from the pandemic.


Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Police stand in front of a Walgreens with a door smashed in

Law enforcement were present on Market Street Sunday morning. A police vehicle blocked the entrance to Market St. from 10th Street. Officers stood in front of a Walgreens with glass missing from its door and classical music playing from its speakers. Police also directed traffic several blocks down at Fourth Street, where the windows of Dragon Cuisine

  were smashed in. One officer there could be heard asking a black man walking past where he was headed. 

Derrick Reed owns His Image Barber Lounge on Lancaster Ave., which was not damaged in the protest. Reed, who is black, stood on Market Street Sunday morning and called the destruction “disappointing.”

Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media


“It’s a lot of local businesses out here, who really don’t have nothing to do with the situation,” he said. “These are businesses that actually service the community. ”


But Reed says he is in full agreement with the protests over Floyd’s death, which he sees as well-intentioned. 

“But, as we all know, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do things,” he said.

A Walgreens in Trolley Square

  “We had an opportunity to really get ahead of it, and let’s talk and show everybody that we are together and we all are outraged.”


“The good thing is the City came through and responded, and cleaned up pretty good,” Reed added. “It’s just that it’s hurtful seeing some of these business owners picking up the pieces.”


Several businesses on 9th and 10th streets downtown were also damaged, along with a Walgreens and at least one car in the Trolley Square area.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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