FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from the Vermont Democratic Party
Sunday, April 18, 2021
The Vermont Democratic Party Stands In Solidarity Against Systemic Racism, Police Brutality and Gun Violence in America
MONTPELIER, VT — Another mass shooting. Another Black life lost at the hands of the police. Another child. Another and another and another.
Every day more than 100 Americans die from gun violence. We lose them to mass shootings, we lose them to suicide, to homicide, we lose them at the hands of the police. This week, our nation watched as members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community have disproportionately been, once again, the victims of these killings. Our own communities here in Vermont are in pain, grieving, exhausted. Where does it end?
Last Sunday, another Black man was killed at the hands of a law enforcement officer. Daunte Wright, of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, was just 20 years old when he was recklessly shot by Officer Kim Potter when pulled over for a minor traffic stop. More than 52 Black Americans have been shot and killed by members of the police this year.
On Thursday, video footage was released of another child killed at the hands of a law enforcement officer. 13-year-old Adam Toledo, of Chicago, was a Mexican American boy shot and killed by Officer Eric Stillman at the end of a foot chase this March. 22 children under the age 16 have been shot and killed by members of the police since 2015.
Later Thursday, a gunman killed at least eight people within minutes in a shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, injuring at least seven others. Their names are Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jasvinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Sekhon, Karli Smith, and John Weisert. Among them were members of the Sikh, Asian American, and New American communities. Last month, ten people were killed at the King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado. Days before, eight people were killed at three Atlanta area spas, six of them Asian American women. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit based in Washington, the US has seen at least 147 mass shootings in 2021.
This week’s violence comes as we await the verdict of jury deliberations and a possible verdict in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis last June. Today we sit in a divided America that, following the racism, violence, and vitriol of the Trump presidency, still has not healed. We must pass legislation to reform our police system, put an end to gun violence, and create a safer country for all.
On Friday, on the 14th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, President Biden said that gun violence "pierces the very soul of our nation" and called on Congress to act now: "Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it." President Biden’s public health approach to gun control has been regarded as "the boldest reforms in 30 years", built on a series of policies that would work in tandem to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.
The Vermont Democratic Party supports President Biden’s call for action, and today, we make our own. We urge Congress to take action on gun violence and police reform and we call on Vermont Democrats across our state to take action in the daily fight against systemic racism in our counties and towns, standing as allies with the fortitude exemplified by our BIPOC Vermonters. This ongoing work requires every single one of us.
As stated in our Party Platform, Vermont Democrats will continue to demand accountability and transparency in policing, call on police agencies to reduce their use of lethal and non-lethal force on members of the community by establishing, and requiring satisfactory completion and certification of ongoing training on a uniform, statewide use of force policy, including mandatory de-escalation and reporting, and urge our lawmakers to enhance community safety through banning assault weapons and implementing a waiting period for firearms purchases.
“There is something that happened to us, that impacted all of our souls in a collective way when we watched George Floyd’s murder live on TV. Now, yet again, we are forced to relive that trauma as young Black people like Daunte Wright and so many others are senselessly gunned down,” said Steffen Gillom, VDP Executive Committee member. “Black people have shown up time and time again in service to the Democratic Party, and it is time the Party actively chooses to stand with them in a real way, by acknowledging their pain, courage, and resiliency during this time via our powerful platform.”
Lives lost at grocery stores, workplaces, bars, traffic stops, and in our very own homes. We mourn each person, and we mourn for our continually hurting country and for the members of our own Democratic communities that remain disproportionately affected by this violence. We cannot keep standing by in the face of these needless losses. May we listen, rise up, and speak out. America can and must do better.
Vermont Democratic Party