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Delaware now has a bail fund, started amid protests

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Protesters brave the rain in front of the New Castle County Courthouse

Bail funds across the country have seen a flood of donations and attention amid protests over police brutality and racial injustice. The First State now has one.

The grassroots group Food Not Bombs Wilmington (FNB) has raised more than $23,000 over Go Fund Me since late last month to help with bail and legal representation for protesters who are arrested.

“Donating to bail funds became sort of the ‘it thing’ in terms of contributing to protests if you aren’t able to actually show up,” said FNB member Desiree Hendrix. “I think being the first bail fund, being listed as the Wilmignton, Delaware bail fund, it just kind of drew that attention.”

The group decided to create a non-profit so the bail assistance can continue. 

Hendrix is heading the non-profit, called the Wilmington Freedom Alliance, which she says was incorporated in Delaware last week. Hendrix says the group has already posted bail for one person and helped secure legal representation for another. 

“We wanted to become a long-term nonprofit, so even after the protests dwindle down, whatever the reason that’s for, we wanted to create a bail fund to just do everyday bailing out people, since we don’t believe in the cash bail system or being incarcerated before your trial,” she said. 

Dover-based civil-rights and defense attorney Zachary George is providing pro-bono legal representation for one person arrested in connection with the protests. He supports the idea of a bail fund in Delaware.

“Folks that are wrapped up in the criminal justice system as defendants are coming from nothing,” he said. “They’re being incarcerated pre-trial even when there’s a significant lack of evidence. We’ve been talking about bail reform a lot in this state, and a presumption for releasing individuals pre-trial. Frankly I’m not seeing that put into motion in all of the courts.”

The Wilmington Freedom Alliance plans to focus on posting bail for those most impacted by police violence—particularly Black and brown residents of Wilmington—and create a review committee staffed by community members to evaluate cases. 

The twenty protesters recently arrested near Camden were released on their own recognizance or unsecured bond.


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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