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Vermont House Juneteenth Resolution

House resolution commemorating the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth and recognizing our State’s and nation’s continuing struggle for racial equality:

Whereas, on May 25, 2020, four Minneapolis police officers, including Derek Chauvin, responded to a call that George Floyd, an African American, was attempting to pay for a purchase with counterfeit currency, and

Whereas, Officer Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, continuing this pressure unabated even after George Floyd protested that he could not breathe, and

Whereas, George Floyd became unconscious and died on the scene, and

Whereas, the police officers were fired; Officer Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder—a charge later upgraded to second-degree murder—and with second-degree manslaughter; and his colleagues were subsequently charged with aiding and abetting, and

Whereas, the majority of President Trump’s tweeting in response to the death has been highly inflammatory and racist, and he has advocated a much-criticized militaristic response, and

Whereas, George Floyd’s death again highlights the dangers and disparate treatment that persons of color confront in our nation, and

Whereas, his death followed a police officer’s fatal choking of Eric Garner in New York City; the deadly police shootings of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, and of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; the death of Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. in Baltimore, Maryland, after transport in a police van; and the civilian killings of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and Ahmaud Arbery in Satilla Shores, Georgia, and

Whereas, Vermonters of color have experienced a higher rate of COVID-19 infections than has the State’s overall population, and

Whereas, Vermonters of color are subject to disparate law enforcement treatment, and

Whereas, the recent harassment of an African American family in Hartford was appalling, and

Whereas, today, Friday June 19, 2020, marks the 155th anniversary of Union General Gordon Granger’s public reading, in Galveston, Texas, of General Order No. 3, announcing the freedom of all previously enslaved persons in Texas, and

Whereas, June 19, now known as Juneteenth, is the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and in 2008, the General Assembly enacted 1 V.S.A. § 375, designating the third Saturday of June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Vermont, and

Whereas, the observance of Juneteenth serves as a powerful reminder that the promise of racial equality continues to elude us, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly commemorates the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth and recognizes our State’s and nation’s continuing struggle for racial equality, and

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to President Trump, the Vermont Congressional Delegation, and the Vermont Human Rights Commission.