Burlington Mayor Too Late to Join Battery Park Protestors

In a “Dear Organizers” letter to protest organizers, dated September 4, Mayor Weinberger announced his support for black lives. A mayor’s office insider told this reporter that the mayor will be taking the lead, directing city action to fire abusing officers, abolish police misconduct, and make generous reparations to the abused and their families.

Not surprisingly, protest organizers reacted with extreme skepticism.

Warming up, in his first paragraph, the mayor said “I support your first amendment rights to protest.” He then went on, “I  fully agree that we have important work to do to dismantle systemic racism in our country and in policing.”

The mayor went out of his way to laud the peaceful character of the last ten days of protests, saying, “I appreciate that your protests have been peaceful and organized.”

Ominously though, the letter then went on expressing that the mayor is “concerned for the safety of protestors at Battery Park.” A “concern high on my mind in part because in recent weeks, other cities have seen clashes between protestors and counter protestors that result in violence.”

The mayor’s office insider said that the mayor was thinking hard about coming down to Battery Park with his own pup tent and sleeping bag to put his body in line to protect the protest against any right wingers seeking to attack, but by the time he had made up his mind the protest camp had broken up.

A protest organizer doubted that the mayor will do anything at all–except send in the cops to assault suspected protesters when he thinks the right moment has arrived.

Still, the organizer said the mayor’s letter deserves a bit of credit for saying, “We understand civil disobedience and the important role that protests have played throughout the country’s history to advance Black lives. We also understand that Black Americans and Indigenous Peoples are the only racialized groups who have had to literally fight for every right they have. We want, and need, to be a partner in that fight with you, not a hindrance.”

The mayor’s office insider said that the mayor was so pumped that he is hoping to start the protests back up again, thinking of leaving the second round of protests only to put his own demands for justice before the next meeting of the city council!

But the protest organizer persisted in extreme doubt, pointing to three paragraphs in the letter that contained actual threats of police action against the protest. Especially concerning was the mention of “ordinances and standards” and “violations,” and “the City may notice the encampment and begin issuing civil tickets if you continue to camp in Battery Park” and “The City may issue noise violations in accordance with the City’s ordinances.” The letter also included a demand for the actual inclusion of the police in the protest marches: “It is critical that trained professionals direct traffic,” it said.

But the mayor’s office insider was bubbling with such ideas as defunding the entire police department, closing prisons, tripling the property tax on Summit Street houses, and putting some kind of tax on F-35 flights. “Then we would have enough money to house the homeless, provide a great education to all our children, and medicare for all. We wouldn’t need so many cops.”

Mayor Weinberger expressed great sadness that the protests had broken up, and was hurt that their next target was City Councillor Joan Shannon’s house. “I just want to find them and hang out,” he said. “I just don’t know where to find them and they won’t return my calls. Hopefully I’ll see them on my lawn soon so I can hook up with them there.”

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