4 straight 6 p.m. vigils draw hundreds
UPDATED, May 31: Arlington leaders issued a statement Friday, May 29, about the death of George Floyd and the actions of Minneapolis police.
Leaders including Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Police Chief Juliann Flaherty, Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Jill Harvey and Fire Chief Kevin Kelley denounced the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department, a statement from John Guilfoil Public Relations said. They joined in the collective sense of national sorrow that the death of Floyd has brought on our society, the statement said.
From 6 to 7 p.m. May 29, 30 and 31 at Mass. Ave. and Pleasant and elsewhere in town, vigils drew an estimated 200 people on May 31, police said, to express solidarity with those protesting the death.
"The actions of the Minneapolis police officers leading to the death of George Floyd represent at the very least a staggering departure from the training standards of a professional peace officer whose badge represents a commitment to protect life," Chief Flaherty said. "The behavior of these officers -- whether by action or inaction -- constitute a failure resulting in the ultimate cost in the loss of life. I condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms."
The officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck before he died has been charged with murder, BostonGlobe.com reports.
The town's statement says Massachusetts police officers have thoroughly embraced the six pillars of the principles embodied in the final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and remain committed to professional conduct, democratic policing and procedural justice for all people.
The Town of Arlington is a welcoming and inclusive community that has made great strides and attempted to face every challenge and conflict with professionalism and legitimacy in mind, it says.
The Arlington Police Department undergoes regular training on deescalation techniques, mental health, diversity and inclusion, fair and impartial policing and police legitimacy. This includes advanced training through the Police Executive Research Forum titled "Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics" or ICAT.
"The death of George Floyd is a tragedy, and it should give pause to all Americans who value liberty," Chapdelaine said. "The most basic responsibility of a police officer is to protect life -- the lives of all citizens, including those suspected of committing a crime who have a presumption of innocence in this nation."
While the town leaders also denounce the burning of the police station in Minneapolis overnight Thursday, they urge that this is a time for dialogue, however difficult and painful that may be.
"People do not protest because they are thugs or criminals. They protest when they feel there is serious injustice in society," said Harvey, the town diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator. "While we never condone the destruction of property, we need words of healing from our leaders, not incitement to further acts of violence."
President Trump had referred to protesters as "thugs." He walked back those comments on Twitter a day later, BostonGlobe.com reports.
The Town of Arlington makes numerous resources available for residents who are seeking more information on the community's inclusion efforts or for those who find themselves angry, confused or in need of services.
For more information visit arlingtonhumanrights.org.
This news announcement was published Friday, May 29, 2020. John Guilfoil Public Relations, which provides news releases to the town. It was updated May 30, to add a link and a local reference, and May 31.
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