Man trolled by Burlington police chief calls for resignation

Published: Dec. 14, 2019 at 8:46 PM EST
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The man who exposed the secret Twitter account of Burlington's police chief is calling for his resignation.

Chief Brandon del Pozo admitted to Mayor Miro Weinberger in late July about the tweets he posted trolling an online critic and told the mayor he lied to a reporter. Weinberger put del Pozo on administrative and eventually medical leave after an investigation found a mental health condition impacted the chief's actions.

Burlington resident and city critic Charles Winkleman was on the receiving end of the trolling and brought attention to the secret account. He says harassment online is nothing new in the Queen City.

"It's been a long few days for sure," said Winkleman.

He says he wasn't sure if a Twitter account that was trolling him earlier this year could actually be Burlington's police chief.

"Is this the sort of thing that no one is going to believe?" Winkleman said.

But it was true. Winkleman says he feels for the mental health condition del Pozo was going through. He wouldn't call himself an online troll but says some of his posts may make some, especially elected officials, feel uncomfortable.

"The idea that I troll seems to be coming from folks who don't like what I have to say," Winkleman said.

He says he has dealt with online harassment multiple times himself and says the Queen City has a problem when it comes to trolling.

"Which unfortunately can really start grinding on your psyche," Winkleman said.

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George agrees.

"People say very mean things on social media. And those things have literally kept me up at night," she said.

Meanwhile, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says the state can do better.

"I personally have been on the receiving end on some of that negativity and I think we need to rise above it," said Scott, R-Vermont.

Winkleman says the overall problem is not the tweets or the trolling. He says it's about sparking change in how Burlington city leaders address conflicts, concerns, and its most vulnerable populations. He doesn't believe the city's leaders are a part of the fix.

"I think the chief should resign, I think his deputies should resign. I think that the mayor needs to resign, too," Winkleman said.