WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — New Castle County police are investigating the theft of a historical marker that commemorated Delaware’s only documented lynching. The plaque, which was installed just two months ago, was in memory of an African American man who was lynched and murdered in the early 1900s.
“We’re just going to continue to go forward, push and educate everybody on why it’s so important we put up the marker and the true meaning behind it,” 16-year-old Savannah Shepherd said.
Determination to tell Delaware’s true story, Shepherd was there in June to bring the plaque to Wilmington’s Greenbank Park. She wanted to tell the story of George White, who was lynched in 1903.
But just a few weeks later, all that remains is a dirt patch.
Someone noticed the plaque was stolen on Thursday morning.
“It’s difficult, but it’s not going to deter me or stop me from doing what I’m doing,” Shepherd said. “I just want to have the community to have a better understanding of the true story and importance of knowing what happened.”
Now to provide some perspective, the plaque was 10 feet high and the reason why it was put at Greenbank Park was because this is near where White was burned at the stake.
The plaque was placed near the remains of the New Castle County workhouse. It’s where White was imprisoned before being dragged away by a mob and burned.
White was accused of killing a white girl. He was awaiting trial when he was killed.
“It’s important we know our history if we want to understand our present and our future,” New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said, “and maybe we learn a little something about our present as well. We need to work a little harder to make a more just community.”
Investigators are now trying to determine if the marker was stolen as an act of disobedience or something more sinister.
“I don’t want to speculate, we’re obviously fearing that it was the worst, was someone with malicious intent,” Meyer said. “But we certainly hope that’s not the case.”
The county is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the marker is being asked by authorities to contact police at 302-395-2761.
CBS3’s Howard Monroe reports.