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ACLU launches campaign to educate Wilmington voters about police reform

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

The ACLU of Delaware is launching a new program called Vote Smart Justice in Wilmington.

Community advocates in Wilmington want to put the topic of police brutality front and center in the upcoming elections.


That’s why they’re starting a new campaign with the ACLU called Vote Smart Justice, focused on educating voters about where Wilmington city candidates stand on police reform.


Dubard McGriff is a community organizer with the ACLU. He says this campaign highlights the issues people of color face in the city. He says being Black and having been in trouble with the law in the past, he knows what it’s like to miss the real issues at hand.


“You know it happens so much to individuals like me that sometimes we don’t notice misconduct, we don’t know that it’s brutality until it’s put on the bigger screen. I too turned an eye to it, I was conditioned to the misconduct of police officers. So it happened to me my whole life and I thought it was normal.”


McGriff says it was only when he got involved in community activism that he saw what the issues were.


The campaign interviewed most of the city’s candidates about their stances on various reform issues, such as body cameras and police accountability.


McGriff adds the big goal is to make sure voters make an educated choice on the candidate they believe will address police brutality in the city.


“You know we’re not only focusing on City Council, we’re focusing on also the mayoral races and the treasurer races, the people that control the money and people that make the administrative choices as well. We’re asking all candidates that’s running in these elections, people that have control over these things to, you know, what do you wanna do with this power.”


McGriff says it’s important that the activists and the City work with the police department to initiate reforms. He says he's not anti-police, but rather pro-community.


He adds the ACLU, as a non-partisan organization, isn’t endorsing any one candidate— but rather educating voters.


The campaign plans to continue to run ads up until the state primary on September 15.


As far as McGriff knows, this is the largest voter education campaign focused on police reform in the city of Wilmington.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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