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Whipping post is removed from Delaware courthouse square

A whipping post on the grounds of the Old Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown, Del.
(Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs via Associated Press)

An 8-foot-tall whipping post has been removed from a Delaware county courthouse square after activists said the post was a reminder of racial discrimination.

The post outside the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown was removed Wednesday after an hour-and-a-half of excavation and put in storage with other historical artifacts, news outlets reported.

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs said the post was used to bind and whip people publicly for committing crimes up until 1952.

However, Black people were disproportionately punished, according to the historical group. A book published in 1947 by Robert Caldwell, a former sociology professor in the state, said more than 60% of those beaten between 1900 and 1945 were Black, The Delaware News Journal reported. At that time, Black people made up less than 20% of Delaware’s population.

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The state-owned post was put on display outside the courthouse by the Georgetown Historical Society in 1993, nearly two decades after Delaware outlawed state-sanctioned public floggings outside local jails and prisons. It was the last state to abolish the whipping post, news outlets said.

Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin said the post was a “cold deadpan display” that didn’t “adequately account for the traumatic legacy it represents, and that still reverberates among communities of color in our state.”

The post’s removal is part of a nationwide movement reassessing displays of monuments that represent racism and oppression. Removal of Confederate monuments and symbols of racism were sparked by protests over the death of George Floyd and other Black people in police custody.


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