Burlington police: Protesters ‘came very close’ to impeding officers

Burlington police say about a dozen social justice protesters “came very close” to impeding Burlington police officers who were dealing with a suspect in a stolen car case.

Burlington police received a report late Saturday that the car of an Uber driver had been stolen and the vehicle spotted near the headquarters of the city police department.

While police were trying to speak with the suspect prior to his arrest, about a dozen protestors “loudly” objected, allowing a second suspect in the car to get away.

“This arrest was made much more complicated and fraught because people very nearly stepped over a line from lawfully observing to criminally impeding officers performing their duty,” said Burlington’s Acting Chief of Police Jon Murad in a Sunday release. “That kind of hindrance does not make anyone more safe — not observers, not officers, not the suspect.”

Protesters have been staying overnight in Battery Park and say they will remain until their demands, mainly the firing of three Burlington officers, are met. September 1, 2020.

Police say a number of protesters did try to prevent their associates from interfering with police.

A number of protesters have been camping in Battery Park, next to the Burlington police department for several weeks. The demonstrators say they will stay until three Burlington officers, all involved in use-of-force incidents and defendants in lawsuits regarding those events, are fired.

Police said it was the second time protesters have interfered with an arrest. There was another incident in which protesters locked arms and prevented marked cruisers with lights illuminated from responding to an emergency call about a fight that reportedly involved a firearm.

Under Vermont law someone convicted of impeding a police officer can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.