Candlelight Vigil for Community Support After Shooting in Raid

For Immediate Release

12/23/15

Alyssa Chen, alyssa@radvt.org, (720) 208-8474

Burlington, VT – Community members gathered this evening to mourn the loss of a life during the Drug Enforcement Administration raid on Elmwood Avenue, which took place in coordination with the Burlington Police Department. The vigil was organized by the One Love Initiative – a broad collaboration of community organizations and concerned individuals fighting for racial justice and true community safety, including members of Rights & Democracy, the Vermont Workers’ Center, the Peace and Justice Center, and Justice for All.

Right now, very little information about this incident has been released to the public. Concerned community members at the vigil what to know what happened, and are calling for assurance that increasingly violent policing will not be the community response to drug problems.

“Justice for All is on record with the public safety committee as warning that the method of addressing the problem of drugs in the Old North End with increased policing will only make the community less safe. Drug problems are a public health issue, not a law enforcement issue. We need drug treatment and restorative justice to heal our community,” said Mark Hughes, a representative of Justice for All.

Organizers also pointed to the importance of prioritizing building a just economy to prevent drug use.

“As a teacher, I saw many of my students deal drugs because their criminal record prevented them from getting jobs or they needed to make a rent payment. Building a vibrant, equitable economy that meet everyone’s needs is the best way to avoid further violence,” said Alyssa Chen, a Field Organizer for Rights & Democracy.

The community is looking for answers about this incident, and require assurance that deaths at the hands of the police will not become a pattern in Vermont.

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