BASHIRU ABDULAZIZ RECENTLY shared his concerns about being the focus of a June 22 police investigation in Middlebury. The Brandon resident believes the color of his skin might have played a role in how the case was reported and investigated.
Photo courtesy of Bashiru Abdulaziz
BRANDON — A Black man who was ordered by Middlebury police to “raise his hands” after an erroneous report that he had been detaining a woman at gunpoint off Mary Hogan Drive is now talking about the incident.
Bashiru Abdulaziz, a 38-year-old man who lives in Brandon, believes witnesses and authorities in the case last week failed to give him the benefit of the doubt because he is Black.
As reported in the June 25 edition of the Independent, Abdulaziz was approached by two Middlebury police officers and a police dog at the Middlebury Recreation Park at around 8:45 p.m. on June 22, after a 13-...
The Vermont House approved police reform legislation Friday that requires all state police to wear body cameras, prohibits officers from using chokeholds and other similar restraint techniques, while also mandating that the Legislature pass additional criminal and racial justice measures in August and in the coming years.
The House passed S.219 and the Senate concurred on slight changes as the Legislature ended its remaining business Friday — just three days after the upper chamber first progressed the bill and lawmakers had vowed to respond swiftly to the killing of George Floyd by police in...
In early June, a group of friends and I organized a vigil on the Bristol green to honor the life of George Floyd and raise awareness about police brutality. The aim was to connect people with resources for antiracist self-education and action, and encourage involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Though People of Color have been abused and murdered by white authority since Europeans arrived in the Americas, several killings of Black people by police in the past few months have caught mainstream attention, and the momentum of the BLM movement has continued to grow.
We reached out to...
MIDDLEBURY — More than a dozen people have asked officials here to redirect the Middlebury Police Department’s voter-approved $46,234 budget increase for fiscal year 2021, and to begin looking at ways to “defund” the MPD.
A national call for defunding police agencies has gained momentum since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Still, some Middlebury officials were surprised to see MPD targeted by the movement.
Police Chief Tom Hanley, who has led the department for almost three decades, has established rigorous standards for new hires. And MPD was the first...
MIDDLEBURY — An erroneous report alleging that a Black man had pulled a woman out of a car at gunpoint near Mary Hogan Elementary School on Monday, June 22, led Middlebury police to order the man to raise his hands and submit to a pat-down.
The man at the time was escorting a special-needs client around the town’s recreation field.
The man, whom police identified as Bashiru Abdulaziz, 39, of Brandon, told authorities he believed he had been investigated because he was Black. The Independent’s attempt to reach Abdulaziz was unsuccessful by press time.
Chief Tom Hanley, during an email exchange...
VERGENNES — An eight-member panel of Vergennes residents is working on a charge for a city Citizen Review Board that could be established within a month and make recommendations to City Manager Daniel Hofman on Vergennes police operations, policies and actions.
The group, originally picked by Mayor Jeff Fritz, actually met on Monday, June 21. But Fritz and council members at their Tuesday meeting decided it would be wiser to make the study committee a council-appointed group.
As an official council committee the group must keep minutes and, vitally, according to city officials, warn meetings...
In principle, we’re in favor of the protests around the country calling to review and restrain police budgets that have been ramped up over the past decade or more as the nation has seemingly adopted a more militaristic approach to police work. The initiative, however, has taken on the unfortunate moniker of “defunding the police,” nor are all police departments equally at fault. Differences must be debated and understood.
To be generous, if the effort were to simply review unreasonable budget increases over the past 20 years — to be sure personnel haven’t increased beyond normal standards of...
Here’s a question for everyone who lives in the Bristol Police District, who are on the hook for funding 90% of the town’s police budget:
If there were a question on the ballot that, if approved, would dissolve the Bristol Police District — effectively eliminating local police — would you vote yes or no?
Note: According to the document that spelled out terms for merging the town and village in the 1990s, people outside the district do not get to vote on such a question.
Eliminating the police district might not be what we want… But some changes are worth considering.
We’ve heard from...
I am able to walk in my neighborhood. Rest in Peace Ezell Ford. I am able to play peacefully in the park. Rest in Peace Tamir Rice. I am able to go grocery shopping. Rest in Peace George Floyd. I am able to relax in my home. Rest in peace Breonna Taylor. I am a white American, and I don’t have to constantly worry that my life might be taken from me based on the color that I wear on my skin.
The American government has not done enough in terms of police reform and interfering with police brutality, especially in black neighborhoods. Neither have they done enough in making sure officers are...
VERGENNES — After hearing from about 20 residents on Tuesday, the Vergennes City Council took the first steps toward forming a citizen review board to work with and oversee the Vergennes Police Department.
The decision also followed a June 2 forum in which dozens discussed policing with Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel, particularly in light of the recent national outcry over systemic racial bias in policing and the increase in city police spending in recent years.
Councilors after discussion backed unanimously the concept and agreed that Mayor Jeff Fritz should appoint a committee...