Crowd fills State House lawn to protest police brutality

Guy Page

A large crowd gathers at the “Honour Their Names” event Sunday on the lawn of the Vermont Statehouse.

By Guy Page

MONTPELIER, Vt. — People protested police brutality against black people at the “Honour Their Names” rally Sunday afternoon on the lawn of the Vermont State House.

“Together we want to raise awareness about what is going on in our country regarding police brutality against black people, while also holding a safe space to grieve the lives that have been lost and continue to be lost to this day,” event organizers said on their Facebook page.

The event was billed by organizers as a peaceful, socially-distanced event in which all participants were asked to wear masks. It remained calm and peaceful throughout. Virtually everyone wore masks. But attempts to keep social distancing failed as the crowd swelled to fill the State House lawn. Black Lives Matter events held in Burlington last weekend have been criticized for failing to keep social distance. Gov. Phil Scott said at his press conference Friday he encouraged masks and socially distancing at this weekend’s rallies, but would not seek to enforce social distancing measures due to concern for protesters’ constitutional rights.

The crowd started gathering around noon. Early attendees were clearly trying to maintain social distancing. However, as the crowd grew to fill almost the entire lawn, 6-feet social distance became impossible. Despite crowd overflow on the steps of the Department of Motor Vehicles building across State Street, by the time the speaking began at 1 p.m. the crowd was mostly massed together in pre-Covid 19 fashion.

The event was organized by UVM student and Montpelier Union High school graduate Noel Riby-Williams. She opened by asking the crowd to give thanks to the earth on which they were standing, which she said had been robbed from Abenakis. After these and other opening remarks, Riby-Williams asked other organizers to list their policy demands. These include a civilian review board to review every report of police violence against black people, and immediate, permanent law enforcement unemployment everywhere for police officers guilty of committing police brutality.

Riby-Williams then asked the crowd to take a knee and observe 8 minutes and 42 seconds of silence — the length of time it took George Floyd to die while Minneapolis police officer and alleged murderer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Most knelt. Silence was total.

At the conclusion of the minutes of silence, Riby-Williams said, “At this time I would like to invite any black person who wants to be heard to come up and express themselves.” Moments later Vermont Daily asked Riby-Williams one-on-one if white people were welcome to speak, too. She shook her head. We asked why. “I think we’re silenced,” she explained. This is an opportunity for white people to hear the perspectives of black people, she said.

Many black people responded to the open mic. Moms spoke of concern for their children. An Islamic black man said that when Islamic people of color kill white people, it’s terrorism; when, white people kill Islamic black people, the cause is described as mental illness. Another person called for “defunding the police,” earning loud applause from the crowd.

Circulating in the crowd as it gathered, Vermont Daily found that “defund the police” means different things to different people. Julia Davis of Montpelier said police as organized today “are militarized and they are killing people.” She recommends reallocating police funding (about 20% of municipal budget in both Burlington and Montpelier) to more restorative justice and mental health interventions. However direct intervention to protect people from personal harm is still a legitimate police function, she said.

Nearby, a young white couple with a baby in a stroller insist police should be abolished. They disagreed that police intervention against violence would ever be necessary. The father said he couldn’t imagine a situation in which others might seek to enter their home and cause his family harm. Citing hypothetical examples of such crimes “isn’t helpful,” he said. The mother said of home break-ins, etc. that “you see on Law and Order … those things aren’t really happening.”

These comments drew questions on social media. “Can you ask these folks who will address crime if we defund the police?” said a Facebook commenter. “Are insurance companies on board with this plan, so will no longer require police reports in the case of a motor vehicle crash, theft, break-in/vandalism, etc? Are the district attorneys on board with the stoppage of all prosecutions, since there would never be any police reports/testimony or appropriately-collected evidence to present? Are construction companies on board, given the fact that there will be no one to enforce speed limits, including in construction zones?”

The blacks-only speaker policy and the inability to abide by social distancing guidelines — and the State of Vermont’s unwillingness to enforce them — also generated criticism on social media. “Where’s the free speech here?” Michelle G. said. “If a group of people gathered in large numbers to rally for feminism but specified that only men were allowed to speak, women would be outraged. Looking at the number of people in that group who are not social distancing, please tell me again why our children are banned from playgrounds and why we can’t have our restaurants and churches open to full capacity? The hypocrisy in Montpelier is staggering.”

A Barre woman said, “Hmmm … and why is it ok to gather for this but not Independence Day!?”

After the open mic, the crowd marched through the streets in Montpelier. Police visibility was minimal and no incidents were observed.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Guy Page
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11 thoughts on “Crowd fills State House lawn to protest police brutality

  1. While I can well understand the reason behind this outing as well as the thousands of other folks expressing outrage aover the needless death of a black man in Minneapolis, I can’t help but wonder where all the outrage across the countr has been when honorable police officers are murdered in the line of duty protecting us. The murder of a retired police chief trying to fend off looters from a friends store, the ambush murder of a deputy sheriff in Santa Cruz while attempting to arrest a bomb maker plus the hundreds of others. Murdered today, forgotten tomorrow. Sad.

    • What is the intent? How can you discern their true intent? What do their actions promote?

      What is being done to bring justice for a crime?

      How do the actions come to bring about Love, Joy and Peace? These are the fruits displayed by those who wish to love their neighbor? Do we see any evidence of these? Who is their master? Their leader? Who is funding them? Who is coordinating them across the globe? A while ignoring other injustice that is rampant.

  2. Another banner weekend of murder in Chicago – homicide up 60% from last year.

    Why is BLM silent on this?

    • Because they are about hate and division. The only person they care about is one that allows them to continue the race war. Notice they never protest about any other oppression?

      The systematic racism they talk about is a systematic oppression, it is also alive and well here in Vermont, except for the fact that we’re all white. It’s the big city social policies that are destroying our country, we’ve adopted them here in Vermont, DCF is growing by leaps and bounds because of it.

      Planned Parenthood, whose policies have lead to 50% of all births being unplanned is a large part of it. No jobs in another part of it. Poor guidance is another part of it, people can become part of the middle class by these three things, graduate high school, get a job and don’t have kids before you are married. It’s simple but not necessarily easy.

      Promoting drug use and single parenthood, yeah it’s all a recipe for a tough life.

      There are better ways to lead your life, it involves having wisdom, a good mentor and source of truth, something Vermont has turned their backs to and is now suffering the consequences. We reap what we sow.

    • Richard thanks for this,

      She really nails it, BLM agenda-driven BS that we all see ” All Lives Matter”
      and if you break the law you need to go to jail and that includes Cops.

  3. White people weren’t allowed to comment. So unequal, ridiculous. And why were they allowed to not keep social distance and my granddaughter can6 have a regular graduation ceremony from high school. This is all so bias and too liberal for me. I will not agree with this at all. There is more to this than meets the eye.

  4. Dear governor Scott,

    Did you get every body’s name and are you going to keep it, just like you are demanding of our restaurants? Couldn’t keep 5,000 people from congregating on your own front lawn? If you condone this super spreading event please have the courtesy of at least allowing the rest of our state to open for business as usual. Suddenly in the next two weeks the virus will no longer be as potent as it was, according to scientists that is.

    The jig is up, charade is over. We all know it.

    • Benedict Scott has no clothes, never did while he tried to force his tyrannical scam on the people of Vermont,Klar 2020.

  5. Not letting white people speak is also racial discrimination and indeed support for white segregation. What about honor killings of young women by Islamics? Isn’t that a horrific form of gender discrimination? How about black cops killed by so-called peaceful protesters or black businesses looted by BLM rioters? Or the young black man murdered on a road in Georgia? Why don’t they matter? George was a former career criminal and on drugs when he died. Read the court records about his gang invasion of a private home in Houston where they pistoled whipped a women to get money and drugs and her jewelry. Why are these facts forgotten? Never discussed? They are not part of the BLM, Antifa, and far left’s revolution agenda. That’s why. Wake up!

  6. Vermont is now officially open.

    There is no justification for any further lock down. This is a classic example. Governor Scott no longer has any authority on this topic, this occurring in Montpelier no less, where they have mandated use of masks in public buildings.

    This would be considered a super spreader event for the last 3 months. Give up the science fiction, Covid is no longer the threat everyone was told it would be.

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