WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Law enforcement officials from across the Cape Fear have been voicing their thoughts and reactions to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in the custody of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
The president of the New Hanover County NAACP also shared reaction with WWAY.
“Silence does not help,” Deborah Maxwell says. “That means you consent to what the other person did.”
The comments come as people across the country are reacting to Floyd’s death, both by protesting and posting on social media.
“I’m thankful to have heard that charges have been brought this afternoon,” says Maxwell. “But what took so long?”
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder days after he was seen holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while arresting him.
In Wilmington, leaders say it’s yet again another instance of a black man being killed by law enforcement.
“With the advent of being able to record on your phones,” Maxwell says, “it’s brought so many instances to light, and you wonder, ‘How many did we not know about?'”
Like many others, Maxwell says it boils down to a systemic issue of racism.
“That perpetuates against not only black men, but black people in general,” she says.
Law enforcement agencies in the Cape Fear taking to social media and condemning the alleged behavior these Minneapolis officers displayed in the death of Floyd.
Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram calling their actions “heinous.”
Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams released a statement Friday saying in part, “As an African-American and a law enforcement officer with more than 28 years of service to this community, I understand your anger and frustration; however, we can only bring about positive change through peaceful actions.”
Southport Police Chief Todd Coring posted on Facebook saying in part, “The actions by the officers involved were without merit, justification and go against the very things we are taught as far as showing a sense of compassion and empathy towards those we are sworn to protect and serve.”
Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker released a statement saying in part, “I have observed the events that have occurred over the past week in Minneapolis and I am saddened and heartbroken by what I have seen…I pray for our nation and our community and hope that we will come together and learn to love one another and serve our communities with the professionalism, pride and respect that is expected of us on a daily basis.”
Maxwell is calling on the community to come together.
“To understand we are all human beings,” she says. “We are all American citizens regardless of our tone or hue, and so therefore, we are all afforded the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Mr. Floyd did not deserve to lose his life.”
She says the systemic issue won’t end until people speak up.
“When we see these institutional biases occur, we say stop,” Maxwell says.