ST. ALBANS, Vt. – A peaceful rally to protest police brutality and systemic racism was interrupted Tuesday when a protestor armed with a handgun was arrested after allegedly threatening a man during an argument.
Police say Christopher Reynolds, 22, of Milton confronted a counterprotestor who had crossed the street to argue with the protestors. According to the victim’s statment to police, Reynolds allegedly put his hand on the grip of his gun, which was being carried on his hip, and said “do something or I certainly will.”
Police say video evidence supports the victim’s allegation.
A woman with the counterprotestor, who was shouting “All lives matter” before crossing the street, called the police. On Wednesday, police confirmed that Reynolds was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault.
Other onlookers yelled at protestors throughout the evening, with one telling them to “protest something real.” At one point, another woman walked across the street to speak, and several protestors quieted the crowd to hear what she had to say.
Earlier, more than 100 people peacefully protested at Taylor Park. Two protestors, Frank Spiese and Brittney Malik, described why they attended.
“At this point, I think we’ve both been reeling in our house, feeling locked inside wondering what we can do about this, and this was one of the ways we knew instantly,” Malik said. “We have to go and we have to show up and talk about this, we have to be there at least to support that.”
Spiese expressed his belief that the right to nonviolent protest shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“We have to continue to be peaceful and speak, and let our voices be heard while we can,” Spiese said. “Because who knows how much longer we’ll be able to.”
The protest follows one that occurred Saturday evening in Burlington, when hundreds gathered in Battery Park, saying they’re angry about incidents of police brutality and the killing of black men and women.
The protesters marched to the nearby Burlington Police Headquarters, calling for criminal justice reform. Protesters like Fern Thompson, said racism has existed in our country for far too long.
“I’m here to protest every single black person that has been killed at the hands of white supremacists, cops, one and the same,” Thompson said. “It’s been going on for as long as we’ve been a country, and it shouldn’t be going on any more and it just needs to stop.”
Also over the weekend, Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel, president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote that he is saddened and outraged over the death o Floyd. The Vermont State Police have also been vocal, condemning the actions of the four Minneapolis police pfficers involved as “beyond disturbing.”