In 1968, following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there were riots in Wilmington, just as there were in many other cities across the nation. There were lootings, numerous arrests, fires, and open gun battles in the streets, as well as snipers in almost every window. This continued for two days, after which the police force (combined with the National Guard) was able to restore peace to the city. In the other cities that had riots, the National Guard stayed in town for a couple days, maybe a week at most. However, in Wilmington, the National Guard had no intention of leaving. Wilmington remained under martial law for nine and a half months. To this day, it remains the longest military occupation of any US city since the Civil War.

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