Saturday, August 25, 2012

Demand accountability this Tuesday at 6:00pm at 1 North Ave (Burlington Police Department).

This Tuesday evening come show your support for an INDEPENDENT investigation into the police brutality in Burlington.

Mayor Weinberger has let the Burlington Police investigate themselves as to whether shooting protesters performing civil disobedience on July 29th was justified. The police preliminary incident report itself is marked by many factual errors and misrepresentation and a sheer lack of accountability that many feared would be the result of having an organization with such a vested interest investigate themselves. T

Tuesday August 28th, Burlington Police Commission will receive the BPD incident report about July 29th. The meeting is open to the public.

Last week, four City Councilors (Vince Brennan, Sharon Bushor, Rachel Siegel, and Max Tracy) wrote Mayor Weinberger, demanding an independent investigation. Their request echoed many, many Burlington citizens wishes at a City Council meeting on August 13.

Here is part of their letter:

"While we are grateful to the BPD for conducting their own investigation, we hope that an independent investigation will help build public trust in our police force and provide a forum through which to answer pressing questions...

"It is our sincere hope that with a complete and independent review, we can determine the sequence of events and why actions were taken and, more importantly, how we can respond differently in the future."

Some of the questions that this preliminary action/incident report (conducted by the police themselves) did not answer and still need answering include:

■ An understanding of the kind of training officers receive to deal with “de-escalating protests.”
■ The mayor’s involvement in preparation for the protest and whether he authorized the use of “pepper spray and rubber bullets.”
■ Whether the police had exhausted methods short of force to disperse the protesters.
■ Why, as no arrests were made, the police used pellets and pepper spray.
■ Why those pellets were beyond their expiration date.
■ Whether officers removed their badges, and if so, why?
■ Whether all of the officers involved in the use of force were Burlington police officers.
■ Whether the officer who gave the order to use force was present.

Neither of our Ward 5 City Councilors, Joan Shannon nor Chip Mason, have signed on to their colleagues' letter to the mayor. Why haven't they? Don't they have questions, too? Why are they not demanding an independent review? As City Council President, why has Joan Shannon not demanded that the police incident report be presented to the full city council on the day that the police commission receives their copy?

I've seen first hand how police wrongdoing and abuse has lead to a breach of trust in other cities where I've lived. And I won't stand by and let that happen in Burlington.
With people's rights being trampled by police all over the country, it is crucial that we set a precedent that this is unacceptable in Vermont, and that Vermonters
don't just let something like this happen and then do nothing and forget about it.

Show up, pay attention, speak out on August 28.

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