Protesters marched for George Floyd, who died this past week in custody of Minneapolis police. An officer has been charged with third-degree murder. Burlington Free Press
Hundreds of Black Lives Matter supporters on Saturday marched down North Avenue and engulfed the Burlington police station as part of national protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Burlington’s gathering began in Battery Park with music and a moment of silence for Floyd. Supporters listened to activists speak and then squeezed together, with face coverings, for the short walk to the police station, where they loudly voiced their opposition to police brutality in Vermont and nationwide.
Harmony Edosomwan, a University of Vermont student and one of the event organizers, led the march, speaking on the bed of a pickup truck in the police parking lot, megaphone in hand.
Interim Police Chief Jennifer Morrison walked out of the station to hear and talk with Edosomwan. Burlington Police are facing at least two federal lawsuits for excessive force.
“In my personal opinion … you guys are not doing a good job,” Edosomwan told Morrison. “You need to make a change.”
At the end of tense conversation, Edosomwan poured out a red liquid from a gallon jug in front of Morrison, who was accompained by Deputy Police Chief Jon Murad and Vermont State Police Captain Garry Scott, according to VTDigger.
On the protest group’s Facebook event page, Edosomwan posted her head counters estimated a crowd of at least 1,500.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection to the death of Floyd, a black man. Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd was non-responsive. The three other officers involved were fired but have yet to be charged.
Burlington resident Jamar Fraser, holding a Black Lives Matter sign, said he’s had enough.
“I remember even as a child having the talk with my parents about how to interact with police and the disadvantages that I would have growing up due to the color of my skin and people not hearing our voice,” Fraser said. “After years and years and years of repeat performances of instances like (George Floyd) happening and people not being held accountable — it finally came to a boiling point.
“I’m just mad, I’m honestly angry. I don’t normally get angry, but I’m angry.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger condemned the actions of the Minneapolis officers in a statement earlier Saturday.
“I have watched the videos and seen photos of the encounter between Mr. Floyd and the officers,” Weinberger said. “The images are horrific and the conduct intolerable. I fully support the immediate dismissal of the officers involved and the arrest of the lead officer earlier today.”
Morrison also provided a statement prior to the proteston the Floyd killing.
“It is horrifying and a perversion of everything that American police are meant to do. It is the antithesis of protecting and serving and goes against every piece of training I have had or overseen in my 30 years on the job,” Morrison said. “I am outraged and sick and frustrated by this incident.”
After the march, demonstrators returned to Battery Park for a open mic session.
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