The Peace & Justice Center staff stand in solidarity with the protest encampment outside the Burlington Police Department.
We share the demands of the protesters: Terminate officers Cory Campbell, Jason Bellavance, and Joseph Corrow. These officers have demonstrated violent tendencies, especially toward black men.1 There is no room for this in the world and there is certainly no room for it in Burlington.
The encampment started following a protest on August 25 organized by The Black Perspective after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his four children in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The protest is being run as a decentralized democracy that centers the voices of Black and Indigenous People of Color.
For the past nine nights (as of September 3), dozens of people have slept and lived in Battery Park across from the police station. Deep community care and relationship–building is at the core of the encampment. They share resources, they cook for each other, and they lead programs on nonviolence and de-escalation. It is a beautiful thing. They are building a community that they want to live in – that all humans should want to live in — where those who are most marginalized are centered and accountability is taken for missteps.
Each night at 6:30, people gather at Battery Park to walk up and down Church Street to raise awareness and disrupt the status quo. Some diners complain that they are unable to enjoy an evening out. That is the point! People who do not feel the direct impact of racism, must become uncomfortable enough that they are willing to act.
We cannot let violent, racist police officers freely “patrol” our city with lethal weapons. We need to stop them before another person is assaulted or killed. In the past couple of days, counter protesters have been directly threatening and violent. We need to support the encampment to show that we will not submit to violence.
The Peace & Justice Center stands with The Black Perspective in demanding change. Our work focuses on educational programs, fair trade, and supporting and connecting activists and movement building groups around the state — especially those led by youth and by Black, Indigenous, People of Color. While not directly involved in the encampment, we are grateful for the community that has formed, and for the demands being made. We are grateful to be in a position of helping others see the urgency of these demands and take action to propel them forward. We will do our part to amplify their work.
You can help financially by giving to The Black Perspective through Venmo (@theblackperspectivevt). You can learn more about them on their website and Facebook page. Additionally, you can follow @bpdaccountability on Instagram for updates.
Please contact Burlington City officials to demand that the Officers Corrow, Campbell, and Bellevance be fired immediately.
And if possible, we encourage our members (those who can risk COVID exposure) to join the encampment for an hour or a day, or for the evening march. You can share a meal, build community and learn new skills while resisting white supremacy and working for a better world.
— The Peace & Justice Center Staff: Amy Crosswhite, Aris Garcia, Joshua Oyetubo, Kina Thorpe, and Rachel Siegel
1 These officers have repeatedly shown patterns of violence without provocation or just cause and are a threat to the safety of the Burlington community. Here are links to view the patterns of violence of the officers in question: here, here, here, here, here, and here.