Mayor’s Office

Responding to Wednesday’s insurrection

January 8, 2021

Neighbors,

Wednesday’s events at our nation’s Capitol show us that we are at a tenuous moment in the history of our country and our community. We all have a role to play in how we go forward.

On Thursday morning, I awoke with some measure of relief. It is very important that Congress was able to immediately reconvene the night of the insurrection and certify the free, fair, and lawful election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States of America. In the face of a violent, hateful mob, the democratic process prevailed. Thank you to Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representative Peter Welch for ensuring that this critical step happened without delay.

However, these events also put the problems facing our country in stark relief and remind all Americans, and especially Black Americans, of our dark history of discrimination and racial injustice. All of us should be shaken by the indelible images of the day: rioters parading through the Capitol waving confederate flags, police officers being overwhelmed by an angry white mob, and the repeated incitements of a sitting U.S. President. I mourn that there were lives lost as a result of this, including the life of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died from injuries he sustained while defending the Capitol.

Where do we go from here as a country and as a community? As a first step, there must be accountability for the insurrection. On Wednesday night, I supported Governor Scott’s call for President Trump’s resignation or removal, and I have been heartened to see such sentiment continuing to expand. I also welcome the news that Congress is already investigating why the Capitol Police and coordinating law enforcement agencies were seemingly so unprepared for what happened, especially in contrast to the mobilization of force in response to peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in D.C.

Ultimately, however, this moment demands much more. Like the generations before us that have sustained this country as the world’s oldest democracy, we must come together in this moment of crisis and make this great but deeply flawed country better. As much as anything else, systemic racism is at the heart of this, and we must finally address it directly and as an entire country.

Since the murder of George Floyd, the work that needs to done locally, now, to root out systemic racism has come into much clearer focus. The City of Burlington has a large role to play in this effort. We must continue to make good on our commitment to a racially just pandemic response, and then economic recovery. We must reckon with our past by completing the work of the Reparations Task Force that the City launched in October. We must forge a new future by methodically eliminating racial disparities in our law enforcement, housing, health care, and economic systems – work that we began when we declared racism a public health emergency over the summer, but where we have much more to do.

This generational test is broader than local government – it is a call for all of us. This is a moment for all members of the Burlington community to face our country’s history of racial injustice and root it out. As an immediate step, we can clearly name the racial elements of Wednesday’s events and hold space to discuss them with our colleagues and neighbors.

The future of our country is uncertain. This is a moment where we can participate in making that future better. Let’s all commit to that.

Miro

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