‘Keep this momentum going’: Leaders step up, keep peace at downtown protests


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The nature of protests in downtown Wilmington have taken a positive turn since Sunday.

On day four of protests, people not only marched with the Wilmington Police Chief, but have been peacefully on the steps of City Hall since around 1 p.m.

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“It’s about asking for people to hear us and listen,” community activist Lily Nicole said.

Nicole has been a leader the past few days in maintaining the peace at protests, and even acting as a liaison between protesters and law enforcement at times.

The voices of protesters could certainly be heard Wednesday afternoon, as they stood at the steps of City Hall again and marched through downtown.

Tim Joyner, another leader of the pack, led the group Wednesday. He shared protesters’ outrage, but helped keep the peace.

“You’re always going to have people who are going to be angrier, and their anger is justified It’s just a matter of telling them how to redirect that energy and that anger,” Joyner said.

While the first two nights of protests took a sour turn, Tuesday night proved to be a turning point.

“It’s definitely a change of pace, and we’re going to keep that change of pace,” Joyner said.

When the curfew took effect at 9 p.m. Tuesday night, protesters peacefully left City Hall. Nicole says Tuesday night was a great example of a peaceful protest ending successfully.

“Like we protested for eight hours as a whole shift and we left,” she said. “Last night was beautiful.”

But Nicole also says it’s a two-way street, calling on law enforcement for their help. She’s asking them to make themselves available and have conversations with protesters about what they want to see.

“They’re no different than us,”she said. “We’re no different than them, and I feel as though if they realize that and remember that, even in moments of tension, it’ll be a lot less violent in the past.”

With no end of protests in sight, Nicole says the change they’re looking for is going to start with conversation, and Tuesday night was a step in the right direction.

“Speak up,” she said. “Keep speaking up. If they’re not listening, peacefully speak louder.”

Joyner agrees, and says they’ve gained momentum from the peaceful protests.

“We have to keep this momentum going in order to keep this going every day,” he said. “Every day. So it’s important for us to understand we have to keep our leverage in order to keep the movement going.”

A protester at City Hall says they secured permits to keep the protests going tomorrow, and plan to request permits for the days to come.