As racial justice protests in Burlington enter their second month, Mayor Miro Weinberger has threatened that the city will issue citations for protesters occupying Battery Park. In a show of solidarity, the Vermont branches of the NAACP have offered to pay citation fines and fees for nonviolent protesters.
“The right to peacefully protest should never be beholden to nor threatened by capitalist means of controlling the narrative of resistance,” said Rutland Area NAACP president Tabitha Moore. “Rest assured, the Vermont branches of the NAACP will do whatever we can to ensure that those seeking justice in Battery Park will neither be intimidated nor impeded by laws designed to maintain compliance through monetary threats. Too often money is used to force people into silent acceptance of racism and other systems of supremacy. The least we can do is remove that barrier.”
Protestors have demanded the firing of three violent Burlington police officers—Jason Bellavance, Cory Campbell and Joseph Corrow—who used excessive force against members of the public, as well as other police reforms including changes in disciplinary policies and use of body cameras. In evidence of the power of collective protest, Jason Bellavance recently announced his resignation.
These demands come at a time when police departments across Vermont are under scrutiny and traffic stop data statewide shows continued racial bias. Indeed, a recently published study by Dr. Stephanie Seguino of UVM shows that Black drivers in Burlington are more likely to be stopped—and much more likely to be ticketed, arrested, or searched—than white drivers, even though searches of Black drivers are less likely to result in contraband.
“Our ancestors and their allies marched hand in hand towards collective liberation and we, their descendants, are still marching and still fighting the good fight,” declared Windham NAACP president Steffen Gillom. The NAACP acted as a shield against injustice then and we intend for this organization to act as one now.”
Dr. Seguino’s reports for Burlington, Rutland, and other Vermont towns can be found here: https://www.uvm.edu/cas/economics/profiles/stephanie-seguino
Protestors wishing to submit a citation for reimbursement should fill out this application form.