Protesters call for changes in Vermont policing

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 5:54 PM EDT
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More rallies on Friday from Vermonters calling for justice for George Floyd. His death at the hands of police in Minnesota has sparked a week of protests and vigils nationwide, including in Vermont.

At a protest at the Five Corners in Essex Junction, people took a knee to honor Floyd.

Our Cat Viglienzoni was there for about two hours and the car horns honked in support the entire time.

People started showing up around 4:30 p.m. and quickly lined all the streets with signs. Organizers told people to space themselves six feet apart as much as possible and to wear masks.

Most of the signs told drivers that black lives matter and called for reforms to address systemic racism.

Organizer Anthony Barr said they want to see changes within policing here in Vermont, like mandatory body cameras and civilian oversight boards to investigate police misconduct.

And attendees said it's time for people to listen.

"With all the division we have right now, we need criminal justice reform. Because that's the only thing that will stop this from happening again," Barr said.

"Please stand up with us, join us. It's a fight that we're all fighting. It doesn't stop here. One protest isn't going to be enough. We're going to have to keep going at this every single day until we see some changes," said Jarrell Watts of Waterbury.

We're estimating a couple hundred people, at least, showed up for this rally.

Organizers say they wanted a peaceful gathering and urged people not to do anything but wave at cars.

We saw Essex Police there, too, they talked with the organizer and looked to be just monitoring the situation in case something changed.

Those who attended said they hoped the crowd shows people their message calling for change has wide support.

While health officials have not linked any new cases in Vermont to large protests that happened last weekend in Burlington and elsewhere, they said they're keeping an eye out for any uptick in the virus.

But did note that many protesters wore masks and were outdoors.

However, Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said he and other health officials are concerned the coronavirus could spread due to a lack of physical distancing at these gatherings. He urged all protesters to think of others' health.

"But now be altruistic again and get yourself tested. It's important for your own health. It's important for your family's health. It may be important for another Vermonters' health that you interact with in the near future," Levine said.