Gov. Scott says he would ‘do whatever we could’ if Burlington protests turn violent

Gov. Phil Scott said Friday at his regularly scheduled press conference that he will do whatever it takes to keep Burlington safe if the ongoing protests over police use-of-force turn violent.

“I won’t get into the specifics of what we would do, but we’re here to help,” he said. “ … State government and any government is there to assist in the public safety of its citizens, this is no different. If there was a request for help from the mayor, we would obviously engage and do whatever we could to assist.

“But I want to stress these are peaceful protests — there hasn’t been the violence that we’ve seen in other states and other communities. We hope that continues, and if it does then we won’t have a problem.”

ORCA Media

Gov. Phil Scott on Friday at a press briefing said state government would help Burlington maintain peace if called upon to do so.

For more than a week, hundreds of protesters have gathered at Battery Park and other parts of the city and demanded that the mayor fire three Burlington police officers who have been involved in use-of-force incidents over the past two years: Jason Bellavance, Cory Campbell, and Joseph Corrow.

RELATED: Despite claims of police brutality, controversial use-of-force incidents are rare in Burlington

These include two late-night altercations between black men and officers, and another white man died from complications days after a physical altercation with an officer outside of UVM hospital.

The two black men were Mabior Jok and Congolese immigrant Jérémie Meli, who were arrested in 2018 in separate back-to-back altercations on Sept. 8-9. The charges were dropped for both men, and police bodycam footage has since sparked debate over whether police used too much force during thealtercations.

The third incident took place in March 2019 between Campbell and citizen Douglas Kilburn outside the UVM Medical Center. When a disagreement during a hospital visit turned hostile, Campbell punched Kilburn in the face, and days later he died. The officer was cleared as not at fault by Attorney General TJ Donovan.

The incidents, caught on camera, have driven a rallying cry for police reform in the city by groups such as Black Lives Matter and the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. The police union and police chief have recently said they cannot fire the three officers involved in these incidents.

Nevertheless, protesters claim the three police officers abused the suspects and are against black and brown residents in the city.

Former Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo posted on Twitter that some protesters are acting as if they are the police now. “It’s interesting to see how anti-police activists don’t hesitate to act like they’re cops at the first chance,” he tweeted.

WCAX-TV news anchor Céline McArthur attempted to talk with the protesters, but was met with complete silence.

While protests in Burlington have remained peaceful, Black Lives Matter protests elsewhere in the nation have resulted in looting, massive property damage and even murders. Some major U.S. cities to suffer from left-wing violence included Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis, and most recently Kenosha, Wisconsin. Most of these cities refused to accept help when President Donald Trump offered to send the National Guard.

Scott’s message on Friday was one of hoping the protests stay peaceful.

“Here in Vermont we’ve been fortunate not to have any of the violence that we’ve seen across the country,” he said. “I support peaceful protests, and the protest that’s happening in Burlington again thus far has been peaceful. So as long as it maintains that peaceful nature, no one will have to intervene. It’s the largest city in the state, they have a very qualified police force. The mayor is on top of this, and if there is anything that we can do to assist, obviously we are there to help.”

Scott refused to give specifics on what he would do if things begin to get out of hand.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance issued the following statement in the group’s newsletter Thursday, indicating solidarity with the protests.

“We categorically agree that these officers should be fired, an outstanding demand from the work of Operation Phoenix R.I.S.E. We also stand in solidarity with the protesters that have occupied the park for the last 10 days! We are neither defending nor explaining these demands because they are right and they are just. In a time when the biggest threat to black bodies is policing and in a place of racial reckoning NOW is the time for these officers to go. These protesters have indicated that they will not leave the park until these officers are removed. We will stand with them and continue to lift their voices until the demands are met. #BlackLivesMatter

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Lou Varrichio/TNR and ORCA Media

37 thoughts on “Gov. Scott says he would ‘do whatever we could’ if Burlington protests turn violent

  1. We do elect representatives, their sworn duty is to uphold and defend our constitutional republic, to defend our form of government. In no shape or form are they supposed to do as they wish once in government. We are perhaps on the same wave length, but we are definitely NOT a representative democracy. We democratically elect representatives to uphold the constitution. While it may seem semantically nit picking, the results are vastly different.

    • Actually, Neil, the representatives you elect are supposed to ‘do as they wish’. That is, after all, why you elect them. They tell you what they want to do. You agree or disagree with your vote. And sometimes, when unforeseen circumstances justify a change in plans, I (for one) expect the representative I elected to make the best judgement they can. In other words – ‘do as they wish’ because that is what they believe to be the right thing to do. Otherwise, why have representatives? When, on the other hand, what they ‘do’ is not to your liking, elect someone else the next time around.

      The paradox in liberty and freedom includes our right to do stupid stuff – and be held accountable for the results. This is why many today don’t want anything to do with liberty and freedom. They don’t want to be responsible for what they do. Telling your representatives that they can’t ‘do as they wish’ is tantamount to giving them a get-out-of-jail-free card.

      The U.S. Constitution is an amazing document, setting forth the most enlightened form of governance ever known to humankind. It’s simple and infinitely complex at the same time. And what I appreciate most in it is the accountability factor it sets forth for everyone, whatever their race, sex, age, religion or ethnicity, whatever their social standing or wealth.

      Again, what many are attempting today…. constitutional revisionism so to speak, is a blatant attempt to take power and wealth without being responsible. We should let everyone ‘do as they wish’ – and hold them responsible for their actions.

      • Precisely, Mr. Eshelman. It’s amazing that some who are of the conservative persuasion lack an understanding of this and use the terms “democracy” and “democratic” on a habitual basis. Compositions such as yours can help illuminate, as long as people read and pay heed, then follow up with further research.

        • Misunderstanding liberty and freedom is not so amazing as you may think. It’s been considered for millennia – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, for example. The concepts inherent in liberty and freedom today (e.g. the Bill of Rights) are not easily understood because of the dichotomy between public welfare and individual welfare.

          Here’s the deal very few people I know understand. Public Welfare and Individual Welfare are NOT mutually exclusive. The question is how best to achieve both.

          Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Pilgrims, John Locke, Adam Smith and, obviously, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution, understood intuitively, that individual liberty and freedom provides for the most efficient path to comprehensive public welfare, not the other way around (i.e. socialism). The prescribed benefits of individualism (i.e. intrinsic motivation) has been proven scientifically in studies on Self-Determination Theory. Look it up.

          And, of course, there is one glaring reason why this misunderstanding persists today. It is, first and foremost, the fault of the public education monopoly, the epitome of the tyranny by the majority manifest in our local school districts (again, see Madison’s Federalist #10).

          Break the education monopoly, enlighten the public at large.

  2. Really sick of these violent people getting their way and even after they destroy and kill…… Ya let’s wait until then. Our governor cares more vulgar marxists rights then his own citizens.

  3. I gave Mr. Freitag’s remarks some time to be digested before responding further. However, at the time of this response to his apology, as if there were “comments and concerns over left wing threats to our democracy” by others, they are not referenced in any of the comments to this article as he has surmised. Characterizations using the word ‘left’ aren’t mentioned anywhere, by anyone, except him, up to this point in time. His apology rings hollow.

    With regard to his recent assertions to Neil Johnson:

    The United States is a Constitutional Republic, not a direct or pure democracy. The term ‘democracy’ is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution. Yes, certain State and, especially, local governments are more inclined to pure or direct democratic principles. New England’s traditional town meeting is an example. But small, local democracies, such as these, are proven to be oppressive in their majority (mob) rule. Consider Vermont’s public-school monopoly.

    As James Madison opined in Federalist #10:

    “The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression.”

    Madison went on to say:

    “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.”

    Less likely, perhaps. In other words, the U.S. Constitution recognizes a propensity toward tyranny by a majority in any government, small or large as that majority may be. The U.S. Constitution, consequently, establishes and protects individual rights and freedoms from oppression by these ‘factions’, i.e. by the mob. And it is precisely these protections that are being circumvented through sophistry by certain factions among us today, including but not limited to those who seek to redefine constitutional definitions and principles, to limit our rights to peacefully assemble, and to limit our freedom of speech (typically as censored Content Discrimination)… all for the so-called ‘common good’.

    There is no prescribed ‘common’ good. Democracy is like two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. There is only our individual right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, under the republican ‘rule of law’ that is the United States Constitution. Any ‘good’ that comes from it is at the discretion of individuals interacting with each other in free markets, not from government mandates.

  4. What is ‘whatever it takes’? Violence isn’t only physical. This is how it starts.

    Someone claims to be oppressed, not because of what happened to them, but because of what happened to someone else, days ago, weeks ago, decades ago, and even centuries ago. The oppressed, at first, characterize those who disagree as merely eristic. Then the contrarians are portrayed by the prosecutors as ‘deniers’, then contemptuous deplorables, then as a danger to society itself. The more the deplorable protests, the more severe the characterizations. Ignorant, selfish, and dishonest. Then racist, supremacist, misogynistic haters. Finally, they are characterized as dehumanizing Nazis and Fascists, or worse.

    The accused, on the other hand, aren’t entirely stupid. They are successful, hard working people for the most part – which is why they’re being attacked in the first place. They recognize an environment in which honest debate is less than enlightening. They go silent rather than overtly antagonize the mob.

    Then, the accused become fearful, because silence, itself, is now deemed to imply consent of the alleged subjugation. Finally, only an overt confession of sin is acceptable to the accusers, the declaration being not only an admission of guilt and recognition of salvation, but vindication for the mob. Due Process and constitutional protections from self-incriminating questioning have no force and effect. Reconciliation is impossible with an unrepentant person. Scarlet letters, yellow stars, and, finally, capital punishment (meeting one’s forgiving maker) become the mob’s prescription for redemption.

    Don’t kid yourselves. This process is nothing new. History is riddled with its pretense. And, as George Orwell warned: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

    • I appreciate all the comments and concerns over left wing threats to our democracy. It should be noted that historically, authoritarian rule can come from both the left and the right.

      In a short book “On Tyranny” noted Yale history professor Timothy Snyder describes the methods that demagogues including Mussolini, Hiltler and Stalin used to degrade and topple democratic institutions. A would be tyrant , he writes, will propose a mythical era of past greatness that can be revived and only he can achieve it. He then relies on the willingness of an otherwise fee people to put themselves under his authority. Using lies and distortions, along with ridicule, intimidation, and force against his opponents, the tyrant tightens his grip on the country. Finally, a disaster or emergency provides him the excuse he needs to take total control of the nation and eradicate personal liberties.

      Interesting observations and food for thought as we navigate these challenging times when there are a good deal of extreme views and actions on all sides threatening our Constitution and institutions that have served this country well for over 200 years.

      • fyi – we’re a constitutional republic, our fore fathers rightfully avoided even the term in every document of our founding to NEVER have democracy in it.

        Here’s a quick clip

        Below is a wonderful video talking about our foundational document, where and how it came about.

        Chris-Anne Hall does a wonderful job. Her class should be mandatory for anyone going into public office.

        • Hi Neil,
          One could define America as a representative democracy, as the public elects individuals to represent them at governmental levels. It can also be said to be a constitutional democracy meaning the functions and roles of the government are defined by the constitution that also protects the rights and privileges of individuals regardless if their in the minority or majority.

          It is a wonderful and historically rather unique form of government. One we should cherish and protect it from extremists who in a desire to have their own ways would subvert our system of checks and balances and individual liberties.

          • We do elect representatives, their sworn duty is to uphold and defend our constitutional republic, to defend our form of government. In no shape or form are they supposed to do as they wish once in government. We are perhaps on the same wave length, but we are definitely NOT a representative democracy. We democratically elect representatives to uphold the constitution. While it may seem semantically nit picking, the results are vastly different.

          • Neil,
            I am in total agreement with what you stated below. “We do elect representative ( including the President I may add) whose sworn duty is to defend our form of government . In no shape or form are they suppose to do as they wish once in government”.
            A good way to determine whether we are reacting to something as a partisan or on principle is to substitute for the action taken a member of the opposite party and then see what our response would be. As an experiment try putting in Biden in your mind for Trump when he says or does something and vice-versa put in Trump for Biden. It is a good test I often use on myself.

      • This reply to me is a case in point:
        In my comment, Mr. Freitag, I didn’t characterize anyone as ‘left wing’. That you jumped to that conclusion, however, exemplifies the demagoguery of which you speak, i.e. the appeal of your desires and prejudices rather than rational argument. So, carry on, sir. I, for one, am not yet fearful enough to remain silent, or repent, in the face your continuing pretense.

        • Sorry Jay,
          I was responding to “all the comments and concerns over left wing threats to our democracy” as expressed in this article and follow-up comments and did not mean to respond directly to your post.
          My apologies as I should have just posted it as a general comment. I have enjoyed your reading your perspectives for years and they have given me interesting things to think about while kicking around the home place.

      • If you’re implying that the infamous names you included in your comment are examples of the “far right,” then you are either greatly mistaken or lying. All of them were socialists of the national socialism bent. That is still by characteristics on the left. Those traits are also present in middle-road “Republicans,” who are all too willing to adopt stances advocating for inroads that restrict or deprive us of the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitutions.

      • I’ve read Tim Snyder’s book but after hearing an interview of him warning of the dangerous situation we face with the “near-tyrant” Trump, I came to believe that his thinking was pretty much junk. I believe that these implied or outright comparisons of Trump to Hitler are simply fantasy and a wild twisting of the facts.

        Which party has been so keen to disregard personal liberties, anyhow? Which party has loosened the modern-day brown shirts on the streets? Which party turns a blind eye to burning, violence, intimidation, and destruction of property?

  5. Vermonters, take a look at Rochester New Yawk, that place is heating up now.
    I have no doubt at all that Burlington is on the list.. you really should be taking a strong pro-active stance against this NOW.
    It’s very predictable what is happening here, like Neil says.
    Are you going to allow them to cause such havoc and destruction in your state?
    I hope not.
    And how do you feel about paying for the cleanup? (which will come in different forms)

    Someone wisely told me when I was 18 and went to vote for the first time; “You vote for the person that you want to go to war with..”
    That has turned out to be darned good advice.
    I think we are going to learn here that mask wearers running the gubmint sure are not good Warriors.

    • Governor Scott and his command structure, within the confines of the VT Constitution, should have been planning; Plan A; Plan B; and Plan C if needed ; to keep Vermonters safe with whatever it takes.

      ALL of the VT National Guard is at his disposal (minus deployed Federally Ordered units of course) so there should be no need for a boil-over to last more than 2 or 3 days. When organized well trained and commanded forces confront these thugs who would bring harm to anyone or to a municipality, they will scatter and be gone.

  6. This is complete Astro Turfing……..this is all planned and orchestrated. How did George Orwell predict so many things in the book 1984? He was able to predict it because it has/had/is being done so many times following the same play book that it is entirely predictable.

    So, here is a gentleman who was involved with implementing the plan, one of which is being used my so many in striving for a New World Order….communism, totalitarianism…pick your poison, they are just different names.

    So these videos are not short, but you can’t learn a whole lot in 5 minutes. Others before me introduced me to all this information, it’s been out there for years.

    What I found most interesting was the cure for all this, at the very end. He speaks to the foundational truths upon which western civilization was built, that bring us peace and joy among other things.

    We have not educated ourselves or our children, we have lost our way for sure.

  7. The officials in Portland and Oregon should pay attention to Gov. Scott. He’s made it abundantly clear that there will be immediate consequences for violent behavior. If the situation starts to get dicey in Burlington, I would hope and expect that the Governor would back up his words with immediate action. If an agitator gets hurt, he or she has no one to blame but themselves.

    • Baloney. Chairman Phil has couched his statements in the language of bureaucrats, completely without making any commitments. If anyone believes he would meet Antifa, BLM, or any Marxist group committing any illegal actions – especially violence – with force to stop them, I’ve some prime swamp land to sell them.

      Thanks again for coming to his defense. Are you getting paid for this, like during the government shutdown in the ’90s, or is it all voluntary?

      • The Marxists are met with open arms and wallets all the time in Vermont. If they show their true colors in Vermont, perhaps that will rock our little “utopic” sensibilities.

        Who is going to offer a counter voice? lol….seriously. We’d be taken over by these New World Order pimps in 48 hours. What am I saying, they’ve all been voted into office and run this state.

        Would be nice to have a caucus of Vermont loving, US loving people working together to right this ship.

  8. This is more evidence that the people who choose not to go to Burlington have been quite wise. Let the city rot, like Portland, Seattle, New York, Chicago, et al.

  9. If public officials are too cowardly to protect their constituents then Vermonters will have no choice but to do it themselves.

  10. Well, we will see. Burn it down? OK. Burlington likes that stuff, I guess. They voted in the progressives, so they must be OK with Antifa/BLM. I suggest that the rioters do not try it outside of the cesspool that BTV has become. I suspect that even BTV will become sick of them soon. But, I may be wrong.

  11. Peaceful protesting is one thing. They are passing their message. If they leave a mess or block traffic, shut it down and don’t allow it to come back. It’s not peaceful if it breaks the laws that limit the rest of us.

  12. Burlington’s Mayor ” cowers ” in his office, while these protestors try and tell the
    City there demands, does the Mayor have a backbone, I don’t see it !!

    I have lived in Burlington my entire life and have never seen such BS, camping in
    the City park, stopping traffic and the going up tp Church Street and screaming at
    Burlington Citizens trying to enjoy a meal, these clowns think they are going to
    accomplish any demands………

    The Mayor is a disgrace, this should have been nipped in the bud, you can protest
    all you want, but when you disrupt the Citizens ” Tax Payers” way of life, it’s time to

    Maybe Mayor Miro will grow a pair, I doubt it, lets see if the Governor has a pair !!

    You vote these fools into office, this is what you get.

  13. Have fun with this Vermont.
    Wait until the Soros funded busloads of criminals show up there ready to burn down the city.

  14. As BLM and Antifa are Marxist and are antithetical to the Constitution and Republic,why give either any credence.

  15. “What ever it takes” is just like “ASAP”… meaningless words that do not state what you are prepared to do!

    Grandma always said ” do not tell me what your going to do, show me what you did” and your track record says it all.

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