Mayor’s Office

Statements from Mayor Weinberger and Chief Morrison Condemning the Killing of George Floyd and Promoting Racial Justice in Burlington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2020
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia
(802) 734-0617

Statements from Mayor Weinberger and Chief Morrison Condemning the Killing of George Floyd and Promoting Racial Justice in Burlington

Burlington, VT – At his public briefing earlier today, Mayor Weinberger shared the following statement condemning the killing of George Floyd and recommitting to the work of promoting racial justice in Burlington. The Mayor was joined by Chief of Police Jennifer Morrison, whose statement also is below.

Statement from Mayor Weinberger:

“I want to start today by looking outside of Burlington’s borders and condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the actions that led to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers earlier this week.

“I have watched the videos and seen photos of the encounter between Mr. Floyd and the officers. 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. 

“Criminal conduct has to have criminal sanctions. And in more and more cases, that’s what’s happening. That’s a good thing. But it also is unacceptable that five years after the national reckoning sparked by events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, and elsewhere, the total number of Americans killed by police has stayed the same, year after year, and that our communities have failed to prevent more of these needless killings. The fact that George Floyd’s killing occurred amid a pandemic that is taking the lives of black Americans at far higher rates than it is white Americans because of structural, multi-generational racism casts an even darker shadow on his death.

“What must we do here in Burlington? Certainly we must continue with and recommit ourselves to the work we have been pursuing for years, which is meant to ensure that no one who wears the Burlington Police Department uniform ever commits such a heinous act, and that roots out racism and implicit bias in all its forms. This work is ongoing, and must remain a high priority even at during a time of Police Department leadership transition and public health crisis.

“But, that is not enough. We also must condemn such racial injustices wherever and whenever they happen. I take heart, at least, in that something unusual is happening this week. Activists and political leaders are rightly speaking out. And they are not alone: America’s police chiefs also are denouncing the behavior of the Minneapolis officers, including our own Chief Jennifer Morrison, who is here to share her perspective on this difficult week.”

Statement from Chief Morrison:

“The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers is an atrocity. 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. I am outraged and sick and frustrated by this incident. 

“Kudos to Chief Arradondo for firing the officers involved without waiting for cumbersome and lengthy investigations. Normally, I am all about ‘process’ but in this case, swift, decisive, and meaningful action was appropriate.

“I have struggled to create a coherent message so far because everything I feel and am struggling with is a tiny fraction of the reality that people of color must feel, particularly in places where police-community relations are frayed or just plain bad. I'm wrestling with not wanting my opinions to take up air time when the voices we should be listening to right now are those of the folks most impacted by this. Right now I, and we, need to do more listening and less talking. 

“We need to listen to our community and vow to never let an incident like this happen here. We are committed to continuing to work with community partners, including communities of color, to make police-community relations in Burlington as strong as possible. Working together, we can build a stronger and more just community. The men and women of BPD are professionals who take their oath to protect and serve very seriously. The events that happened in Minneapolis have no place in professional policing and I condemn them in the strongest possible way.”

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Press Release Date: 
05/29/2020
City Department: 
Mayor's Office