WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Following the recent protests in our area and around the country that resulted from the murder of an unarmed black man during an arrest by at least one white police officer, Black Lives Matter of Wilmington held a virtual roundtable to discuss the issues.
The group focused on how we as a society must change the way African-Americans are viewed and treated.
“We had to hear the words ‘I can’t breathe’ again, and that was way too much for all of the people of color here in the United States of America,” said participant Devon Scott.
The meeting comes after Black Lives Matter held a peaceful rally in downtown Wilmington on Saturday, protesting the death of George Floyd.
However, at that same meeting, the discussion turned towards much less peaceful rallies being held across the country.
“A lot of those places, they’re destroying drug stores as well as grocery stores,” said Pastor Kojo Nantambu. “Black communities don’t have drug stores and grocery stores as it is.”
While some denounced the destruction taking place, others argued it was a necessary evil.
“When we start talking about looting and rioting, let us not forget that people looted a whole generation, a whole country of people that they put on slave ships and brought over,” said Sean Palmer, director of the UNCW Upperman Center.
Much of the discussion focused on law enforcement reform, but also institutional racism as a whole.
“I believe, and I really do, that racism or white supremacy is so entrenched in our society that white people just operate on that as a natural tendency or just a natural part of their being,” said attorney Ira Braswell.
Scott, who ran for Wilmington mayor in 2019, believes right now the country is in an uprising phase. So, what’s the next step?
“We can’t move forward unless of course we believe there’s a contract between us and our legal institutions that say that we have a right to prosper and flourish,” Scott said.
Black Lives Matter Wilmington organizer Sonya Patrick says the organization will be meeting with city and county leaders to ask for specifics, including a citizens review board with subpoena rights and psychiatric evaluations for officers.