George Floyd’s brother brings message of unity to Vermont

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – The brother of a Minnesota man whose police murder sparked racial calculation in America traveled to Vermont on Friday to share a message of unity.

“We need unity, we need to be able to communicate with each other because we are stronger in numbers. And if we don’t believe and don’t have hope, how can anyone else believe, ”Philonise Floyd told WCAX.

The murder of George Floyd below the knee of a police officer in May 2020 sparked protests and serious conversation about race across the country. The protests in Vermont have also spurred change, including the development of the city’s office of diversity, equity and inclusion and police reforms that created specially trained staff within the department to respond. mental health issues.

“In order for us to show that we can overcome this, the focal point should be not only George’s legacy, but mental health. He should focus on police reform, he should focus on so many different things, ”Floyd said.

One type of reform that Floyd does not support is the “defunding” movement, where the police force is reduced. In the wake of the Burlington protests, City Council cut the Burlington Police budget by 30%. Floyd has said he prefers to focus on eliminating bad officers rather than massive cuts.

“The problem is, you have good police officers and you have bad ones. You shouldn’t have to sort them. So if you cut them just because you say, I don’t believe in cops… Or do you cut them because you look at their records or how they were abusing their authority, ”Floyd said.

Floyd was invited to speak at the Flynn Theater in Burlington on Friday night as part of the Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center Diversity Lecture Series. Patrick Brown, longtime community member and executive director of the center, says he hopes this will help continue the dialogue around policing in the community, as well as raising awareness.

“Spread the message of hope, spread the message of non-discrimination, spread the message of inclusion – equity and inclusion – in a place where we are comfortable. We’re on that trajectory but we’re not there yet, ”said Brown.

Floyd says he hopes people can walk away from tonight’s discussion with their heads held high and find out how to help make this world a better place.

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