As Gov. Phil Scott faces pushback in Vermont and nationally for a vaccination program prioritizing BIPOC Vermonters, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger last night rejected the idea that “government should not bias any class or grouping of residents over others.”
Yesterday’s announcement that Burlington racial equity director Tyeastia Green would oversee the policing study comes just two days after Mayor Miro Weinberger said it would be conducted by another city official. The decision to perform the assessment was made last summer, in the midst of civic unrest that began with the killing of George Floyd. Weinberger announced his decision to reinstate Green in a public mea culpa.
In June 2020, the City Council voted to reduce the number of police officers in Burlington from 105 to 74, without a plan in place for how the City would respond to the full range of calls with 30 percent fewer officers. Already, as a result of this vote, the Police Department has had to curtail services that include: the Community Affairs Officer who helped coordinate the City’s response to graffiti, the Emergency Response Officer who helped manage the innovative strategies that the Department uses to respond to acute mental health crises, the street crime team that responded to patterns of open-air drug activity and robbery, and foot patrols on Church Street.
“The days matter in our response to this pandemic,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “We must remember that it’s in our collective power to bring this surge back down. We need everyone to cease social gatherings outside of your household and to get tested if you have participated in a social gathering over the last week.”