In a time of widespread calls for police reform, several hundred people from across the Green Mountain State, gathered on the State House lawn this afternoon, to “Back the Blue” and show their support for Vermont law enforcement.
Those supporters included a Republican candidate for Governor from 2018. “They’re getting a bad rap, we know there’s bad cops. Just like there’s bad firemen, bad actors, bad athletes, we know it. But the thing is we’ve gotta make sure they’re getting weeded out. And support the ones that are doing their job,” says Keith Stern.
Tensions rose as people also showed up in support of police reform and de-funding. There was some pushing, shoving and shouting by people from both groups. But both also came together to speak with each other.
“It’s not Portland, it’s not Seattle, and it’s not Chicago. This is Vermont, even if it’s Montpelier, there’s a whole bunch of people behind me that don’t care about them. But we care about them,” said event organizer Jim Sexton of Essex Junction, who’s father was a career Chittenden County Police Officer.
Montpelier Police Chief Brian Peete, was thankful for the support, and understands that changes are necessary. He’s hopeful an event like this will begin to change the conversation. “We’re just in a time right now that it seems that they’re polarized opposites. And so the hope is that we can all come together and have these constructive dialogues and try to figure out what it is that our profession, our institution needs to do to improve its strength and its clearly emerging. How can we become better. And so we’re just appreciative that everybody has a concern. And i’m here to listen, and we’re here to do what we can to make Montpelier better and our police institutions better.”