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'Tired of watching our people die': Del. NAACP wants feds' help to end police, community violence

The state NAACP is requesting federal help for what members call a “state of emergency” in Delaware.

The NAACP state conference of branches plans to write to the U.S. Attorney General requesting federal intervention on issues of police brutality and community violence in the First State. 

NAACP leaders gathered on Wilmington’s East Side Friday, where several people were shot this week. They called for the New Castle County police officers who shot and killed Lymond Moses in January to be criminally charged. 

“We, as Black people in America, are done dying at the hands of police brutality in America,” said Coby Owens, a political organizer and member of the Delaware NAACP. “That is why we are taking necessary steps, and writing to the U.S. Attorney General, to ask them to step in and address the loss of life that we’re seeing here in Delaware.”

Moses' family and advocates have repetedly requested the names of the officers who shot him, but the County has not yet released them. Body camera footage released by the County last month appeared to contradict an earlier statement by County police.

NAACP leaders also demand police and local elected officials control the routine gun violence that plagues the state’s largest city. 

“The NAACP is tired of watching our people die,” Richard “Mouse” Smith, president of the NAACP state conference of branches, said Friday. “NAACP is tired of going to funerals. NAACP is tired of the Mayor and County Executive not giving us answers.”

The NAACP is also renewing its calls for changes to the state use of force statute—under which no police officer who’s killed a civilian has been charged since at least 2005—and to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), which shields police records from public view. 

A state Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force is currently examining these and other policing laws in Delaware.But some advocates have expressed “no confidence” in the group’s ability to deliver reform proposals quickly.

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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