Rally in Montpelier in support of law enforcement
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A peaceful rally in Montpelier Saturday in support of law enforcement quickly escalated when counter-protesters showed up.
About 100 protesters met at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on Saturday morning to let police officers across Vermont and the U.S. know they are appreciated and supported. This comes as calls to defund and abolish police departments intensify across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s officer-involved death.
“Supporting blue lives. Police officers of Vermont and the Capitol and everywhere else,” said Justin Clogan.
“I definitely do believe we need them. We need their presence. We need law and order,” said Lynn Dike.
While speaking at the mic, protesters vouched for why police should be defended, not defunded. That includes one woman who escaped an abusive relationship and says she fell into the arms of a police officer as she ran out the front door.
“Granted, that officer isn’t going to be there for every single one of us every single time. They can’t be. Especially if we defund them. If we defund them, there will be less of them,” she told the crowd.
During their testimonials, protesters were drowned out by counter-protesters, holding signs that said “Abolish the Police” and chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
Protesters shouted back, chanting “U.S.A.” and “All Lives Matter.”
The two groups engaged in a screaming match for several minutes.
The confrontations continued, including during WCAX News’ interview with Bryce Burrell who was there to honor Toledo, Ohio, police officer Anthony Dia. Dia was shot and killed in the line of duty on Independence Day.
“When he was on the radio with the police, he said “Tell my family I love them” and it’s known as his last words,” Burrell said. “I believe any innocent life -- anytime they’re taken-- we should have justice for. Just like [Black Lives Matter protesters] want, we want justice.”
Despite the chaos, people from both groups said they were able to have positive conversations with the other side.
“A lot of it was less of me sharing my story and more of me sharing my motive. Sharing my goal. Our goal, as an organization,” said Zanevia Wilcox of the Black Perspective. “And a lot of people sat back and shook their heads and said ‘I didn’t think about that.’”
Some people even stayed back after the event to continue talking it out.
Montpelier police officers were present at the rally. No one was arrested.
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