I wanted to take this opportunity to make a few comments about the recent Black Lives Matter March that was held in Brattleboro on July 13.
There is a culture of mistrust towards law enforcement that currently exists in our country. Recent events have catapulted that mistrust to levels that exceed those of recent memory. Police interactions with citizens have been called into question resulting in anger, disbelief and frustration. These feelings have manifested themselves into protests, rallies and marches throughout the country. Some have been peaceful, others have not.
There was a march in Brattleboro that should be recognized. Unfortunately there were no national news agencies on hand to help report this story. The participants in this rally were there to express their frustration towards social injustice and police excessive use of force.
From the start I noticed members from across the spectrum of our community and many new faces. They spoke about the injustices towards minorities and police brutality but they also discussed solutions to rectify those injustices and ways of better policing.
This march was interesting to me as it not only addressed the problem but suggested ideas towards the solution. It was peaceful, respectful and informative. To sum it up in one word – positive.
I spoke to many non-participants along the route and their feelings were the same. The conduct of those demonstrating in Brattleboro drew people to them, not away. People wanted to join them, to be a part of this movement. In my opinion, that is how to make a change. Negative actions rarely produce positive outcomes.
To the organizers and to all those who participated, I would like to commend you on the overwhelmingly positive difference you made through your peaceful demonstration. It was a model for the rest of the country to emulate.
People expect the police to respond to a wide variety of situations with thoughtfulness, compassion, respect and empathy. I can assure you that every Brattleboro Police officer wishes to achieve that same goal. Many of you know our local officers personally by name and know of our desire to police in a fair and approachable way. We are engaged with the community from the officer on the street up to the chief, but we are not perfect and will always be able to learn and improve the ways we serve. For that to occur we need you, our community, to let us know how you feel.
Please call, email or stop by to talk to me about your concerns. In these challenging times, the Brattleboro Police Department remains steadfast in the commitment to the safety of all in our community.
Michael R. Fitzgerald is the chief of Brattleboro Police Department. He can be contacted at Michael.Fitzgerald@vermont.gov.