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'Liberal' Dover curfew to remain in place as businesses reopen

Delaware Public Media

City officials and community leaders are condemning civil unrest in Dover that followed protests surrounding the death of George Floyd—an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis. 

After nightfall, following a day of peaceful protests, three Dover businesses were looted and two arrests made by local police Sunday in connection to the protests. 

Mayor Robin Christiansen says a 9 o’clock curfew he instituted Sunday night will stay in place until further notice, with some exception to local businesses opening up for the first time Monday since the start of the coronavirus shutdown.

“I don’t want to stymie [the reopening] in any way,” said Christiansen. “We're going ot be a little bit liberal -minded, [but] I will tell you that if we do see if people gathering in clusters we will do some public safety checks to see if their public safety and everything is well with them.”

Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige is First Vice President of the Central Delaware Branch of the NAACP. She condemns Sunday’s violence while praising the peaceful part of the demonstration.

“I was totally disappointed in the events that happened [Sunday], especially after the young people had had such a peaceful protest during the day,” said Paige.  

First Vice President of the Central Delaware Branch of the NAACP Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige on funding African American communities.

Christiansen says he supports the First Amendment right to assembly, but will not tolerate further destructive behavior in Dover. 

“A peaceful assembly in the city of Dover is not a crime,” said Christiansen. “However, when it becomes violent, my fellow citizens’ rights are being overrun by these folks their property is being endangered, we will handle the situation the way it needs to be handled. We will arrest folks. We will take them into custody.”  

Christiansen says a number of protesters were detained Sunday before being set free, he adds he suspects the several that were from out of state played a part in inciting the violence. 

“We picked up folks that weren’t from Delaware in the Dover area, and that seemed to be where the issue of lawlessness emanated from,” he said.  

Paige calls for federal funding for black communities in response to economic inequity and Floyd’s death.

“I think that the government needs to pour money into the African American community,” she said. “It seems as though the African Americans are the ones who are least able to get business loans—small business loans. The banks maybe need to come up with a program, but money needs to be poured into investing into African Americans.”

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