by Guy Page
A Woodstock police officer was told to remove a “Support Our Police” sign from in front of the police department because, he was told, someone complained it’s racist.
Corporal Mark Donka, a full-time sworn officer of the Woodstock Police Department, tweeted a photo and explanation on July 9: “I was told to remove this sign from the front of the Police station as it was racist. Not sure how.” The tweet included this photo of a sign resting on the back of Donka’s car:
Contacted by Vermont Daily, Donka offered more details:
“I put the sign up in front of the Police station. The town received a call(s) saying that we should realize that the sign was racist. Since it was on town property, I removed it. Then I placed it on the rear of my vehicle for a while.”
“It is kind of interesting since 1/3 of our department is black and did not have an issue. I am still confused why a support your police sign is racist. But such are the times,” Donka – a 40-year career law enforcement veteran, EMT, former firefighter, and ordained Public Safety Chaplain – said.
Here are a few signs of those times:
In 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed three bills aimed at reducing what it claimed is racial injustice in Vermont’s criminal justice system: S24 (racial bias in Dept. of Corrections), S119 (restricting police use of force), and S234 (miscellaneous judicial changes). A House/Senate resolution passed in June, 2020 remembered the death of George Floyd and declared that “Vermonters of color are subject to disparate law enforcement treatment.”
The role of police also arises in Vermont public school “equity” education. According to Vermonters for Vermont Initiative founder Greg Thayer, students are asked to “Talk about the parallels between lynchings and Police brutalities today” and are asked, “what relationship do you have with the Police, and how does your race play into that?”
Furthermore, Black Lives Matter protesters in Vermont last year were often heard to chant or carrying posters with the message, “All Cops are B——s,” or ACAB for short. Burlington city officials reduced funding for line officers, and one purportedly anti-racist city councilor last year suggested disarming police in most patrol situations.
The sign was produced by the Vermont Police Coalition, whose mission is “to formulate and promote public policies that ensure the safety and welfare of our law enforcement officers,” the website says. Michael Hall is listed as the executive director.