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Burlington protests continue, police say demands won’t be met

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 1:17 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 12:10 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Black Lives Matter activists marked their seventh day of protesting Tuesday as they continue demands for Burlington Police to fire three officers.

More than 1,000 people showed up on Tuesday night to publicly call for Ofcs. Jason Bellavance, Cory Campbell and Joseph Corrow to be terminated from the police force. The three officers were seen on body camera video using force on people, leading to two excessive force lawsuits.

While marching down Church Street, protesters held signs with the names of Black people who were killed by police officers across the country. Those leading the demonstration held a massive sign with the name Douglas Kilburn written on it. Kilburn died three days after a fight with Ofc. Cory Campbell at the UVM Medical Center last year.

Protesters have been camped outside of the police department for a week and say they’re not leaving until the officers are let go.

On Tuesday, Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burington, broke his silence and released a statement saying: “As Mayor, the safety of Burlingtonians is my top responsibility. I am concerned about the safety of the protesters who have demonstrated in Battery Park for the last week since the shooting of Jacob Blake.”

Weinberger also wrote that he supports protesters’ First Amendment rights and agrees with them that “we must dismantle systemic racism in this country and this community, and in policing.”

Weinberger stopped short of addressing protesters’ demands regarding Bellavance, Campbell and Corrow.

Protesters say Weinberger’s statement is not enough. While speaking at City Hall, one of the lead protesters urged the crowd to contact Weinberger and state leaders and hold them accountable.

“It’s about time this city takes accountability. Until Jason Bellavance, Cory Campbell and Joseph Corrow are off the streets, the brown and Black people of this city will no longer trust those in power,” she said.

The Burlington Police Department is also standing its ground against protesters. Deputy Chief Matthew Sullivan says the three officers were investigated and cleared and will not lose their badges.

“Those incidents have been investigated by independent investigators. They’ve been looked at by the State’s Attorney’s Office and vetted thoroughly and those officers did nothing wrong,” Sullivan said. “So I think it’s a lack of understanding on the part of the protesters, and to conflate the incidents involving those offices with— those, for example— in the George Floyd incident or Jacob Blake incident is not really analogous incidents. They are much different in nature. The fact patterns are extremely different and they need to look at them on a case-by-case basis.”

Sullivan also says police support peaceful protests but they say protesters need to allow emergency vehicles to pass. He says protesters prevented officers for about 10- minutes from getting to the scene of a fight on Monday night, as they stood in the middle of Pearl Street with their arms linked together.

POLICE ARREST WINOOSKI MAN THREATENING PROTESTERS WITH GUN

Burlington Police have arrested a Winooski man who was walking near protesters with an AR-15 style rifle and a pistol.

Police had received reports of the man who allegedly had a gun and was threatening people. When officers made contact with him over the weekend, they found no issue.

After further investigation, police identified the man as Jordan Atwood, 25, of Winooski.

Officers then found out Atwood was not allowed to have a gun due to a previous reckless endangerment charge from last year. A condition of his release was that he was not to be in possession of a firearm.

Jordan Atwood
Jordan Atwood(WCAX)
ACTIVISTS SAY THEY ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

Demonstrators say they’re not giving up their post in Battery Park. They’re preparing for an extended stay. The protestors say they’re in it for the long haul, and that they want to build a sense of community among the group. They say that there’s strength in numbers.

Some of the protestors have been out there for eight days, and they say that they don’t want to be out here.

But protesters say this is the best way to draw attention and eyes to their cause, seeking the termination of three Burlington Police officers.

“We’re getting there,” one protester said. “Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Change doesn’t come immediately, we need to make that change. We need to be that change we want to see. And with that comes a lot of hard work, there’s a lot of hard work. We can’t have I stand gratification.”

Many of these protesters are college students. In the camp at Burlington’s Battery Park, they’re setting up what they’re calling teaching tables where students can stay and still get their classwork done during the day.

On Tuesday night, they encouraged growing camaraderie among the demonstrators by socially distancing in groups of 15 to 20 people and getting to better know each other and share stories.

Speakers ended by saying it takes just one person, one seed to start a revolution.

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