Hundreds gather for Middletown prayer and protest

Amanda Parrish * Delaware
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Town square and Main Street shut down for four hours June 7 when the MOT community rallied in protest of police brutality on black Americans.

Elected officials, religious leaders and community activists took the stage that was set up at the intersection of Main and Broad streets and called for change on how police departments operate.

While holding the scarf of her great-great-great-grandfather, who was a slave, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester encouraged having uncomfortable conversations and told people to ask themselves what they can do to help in the fight against racial inequality.

“This time is going to be different because we are going to be different,” she said. “We got to do this together because sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”

Many speakers emphasized about the importance of listening to young people as the ones who will drive the future.

“Who I need you to start listening to are those young black men who are in harm's way,” Delaware State University President Tony Allen said.

Jelani Bryant, a rising sophomore at Delaware State University, asked the crowd how committed they are to making change.

“These marches will stop, but I am committed to change, so change won’t [stop],” the Middletown native said. “You got to be committed, you can’t be convenient.”

The rally began with protesters taking a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time a Minneapolis officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck — as religious leaders prayed for justice, peace and love.

Middletown Police Chief Robert Kracyla read a letter to the town, condemning the Minneapolis Police Department’s actions leading to Floyd’s death. He addressed his department’s training, which includes bias education.

Kayla Broughton, a 20-year-old Middletown resident, addressed the police and said they are not good cops unless they are holding each other accountable.

“I am sick of tired of our people being on welfare, I am sick and tired of people being homeless and the police have all this equipment to hurt us to kill us and not to protect us,” she said. “I am sick and tired of my people dying.”

The protest organizers and elected officials called on the crowd to register to vote as a way to start making meaningful change when the protests across the country disappear.

After two hours of speakers, protesters peacefully marched down Main Street to Louis L. Redding Middle School before coming back to town square, as residents joined in on the chants from their front porches. Many of the chants that could be heard were “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace."

“This is powerful,” Jeffery Broughton, bishop at Living Grace Worship Cathedral, said to the protesters at the end of the march. “What you are doing right now is powerful.”