Burlington protests: Police commissioner resigns; UVM students hold ‘die-in’

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BURLINGTON, Vt. – On the tenth consecutive day of protest in Burlington, hundreds of people again filled the lower end of Church Street outside City Hall to demand the firing of three officers involved in use-of-force incidents.

Among the speakers Thursday was Mark Hughes, a member of the Burlington Police Commission, who announced he resigned from the position in letter to Mayor Miro Weinberger. Hughes said he was growing increasingly frustrated with Weinberger’s failure to back the dismissal of the officers, Jason Bellavance, Joseph Corrow and Cory Campbell.

“The problem is not that this administration does not have the ability to take action on this demand,” Hughes wrote. “This administration chooses not to take action because they are unwilling to accept the cost of doing so.”

At Thursday’s protest, Hughes called on Weinberger to take bold action. “Become a history-maker by placing a priority on the protection of Black bodies over money,” Hughes said.

On Wednesday, Weinberger said there’s “limitations within the law of reopening and revisiting” the discipline handed down to the officer

The crowd included students from the University of Vermont who had walked to City Hall from a separate “die-in” on campus Thursday afternoon. Organizers said they believe the UVM administration has failed to listen to its students, teachers and people of color within the campus community.

Students laid on the ground to mourn what they called the “loss of their education” due to the administration’s refusal to pay non-tenure faculty a living wage, the closing of the campus children’s school, and the underfunding and cutting of programs needed for marginalized communities.

“These budget cuts are nothing new,” one speaker said. “They are the continuation of a longstanding logic at UVM which prioritizes profits over people. A logic that says tuition first, teachers second. A logic that says tuition first, teachers second. A logic which has computed the value of Black lives and calculated they just aren’t worth it.”

The group of students also believe UVM administration isn’t listening to students of color about their needs, and protesters insisted that it won’t be “business as usual” on campus until those needs are met.

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