County police are searching for the vandals who stole a recently installed historic marker noting the lynching death of black farm worker George White in 1903
A state marker dedicated to the victim of a dark crime in Delaware history has been stolen weeks after being installed.
According to a report from county police, on Friday, Aug. 2, officers responded to a citizen’s Aug. 1 call that the sign had been missing, and that there was a large hole in the ground where the marker once stood at Greenbank Park along Kirkwood Highway.
The marker, which was installed June 19 and unveiled Sunday, June 23, commemorates the memory of George White.
White was a black farm worker who was accused of murdering a white woman in 1903. He was jailed, then lynched and his body burned and hacked up as souvenirs by attendees.
The marker, unveiled on the 116th anniversary of the lynching, was installed by the state following a campaign from Sanford School senior Savannah Shepherd.
Shepherd learned of the incident during a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, eventually approaching Sen. Darius Brown, who agreed to cover the cost.
In a statement from her family, Shepherd said they were saddened and disappointed over the news.
“We aren’t drawing any conclusions today about who took the sign, how, or why,” the statement reads. “But we do wish we could engage in a conversation with whoever did this and we strongly believe that, with some level of understanding about why this marker and this history matters to us, all of this could have been avoided.”
Brown said he was proud to be a part of the marker’s installation, and was disappointed over the theft.
"Remembering our past in this honest and direct way has the power to bring us to tears but also to heal and to spur change,” Brown said. “I imagine that whoever ripped the sign from the ground did so for many of the same reasons, and that, too, is a reminder that – at every step along the way – we have been opposed and impeded for simply remembering our past and demanding better. We didn’t give up then; we will not give up now.”
County Executive Matt Meyer said the theft would only bring renewed attention to the horror and injustice that occurred in New Castle County.
“I call on whoever is responsible for this crime to do the right thing and return the marker to us,” Meyer said.
Officials from the Delaware Public Archives, who oversee historical markers in the state, noted that the concrete footing that secured the marker in the ground would have made the sign extremely heavy and hard to remove.
Officials from the Public Archives estimated a replacement would cost $2,205, including fabrication and installation.
Police are asking anyone with information regarding the theft to contact Detective Elwood at 302-395-2761, email at Daniel.Elwood@newcastlede.gov, or by calling the New Castle County Police non-emergency number at 302-573-2800.
Text a tip anonymously by texting 847411 keyword: NCCDE. You can also submit a tip via our website at http://www.nccpd.com. Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333 or visit us on Facebook (IM) at New Castle County Division of Police.