Neighbors Demand Justice for Jesse Beshaw

News Release
September 25, 2016

Winooski, VT — Dozens of residents of Winooski and Burlington staged a demonstration today, condemning the recent police murder of Winooski resident Jesse Beshaw and demanding justice for all victims of police brutality. The group, including members of Jesse Beshaw’s family, gathered at the O’Brien Community Center, marched past the site of Beshaw’s murder, then took over the downtown traffic circle with signs. They proceeded to stage a die-in to protest Beshaw’s extra-judicial murder. Police have killed 123 unarmed Americans in 2016; Beshaw was the 119th.

Nationwide, the police disproportionately use lethal force against poor people and people of color. Here in Vermont, police have historically targeted the poor, addicted, and mentally ill. “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were; Jesse was unarmed and now he’s dead. Whatever he did, whatever he said, he wasn’t waving around a weapon. Officer Palmier was. Maybe Jesse did something wrong, maybe not. But because he was from the wrong side of the tracks, because he’d struggled and screwed up, he didn’t get a trial. He got shot,” said Jas Wheeler, who lives just blocks from the O’Brien Community Center.

The Vermont State Police refuse to release video of the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. At this point, no charges have been filed against Nicholas Palmier, the Franklin County sheriff’s deputy and Winooski resident who shot Beshaw. Jesse Beshaw is dead and his family is in mourning. His fiancee is left to care for her three children alone.

“This wouldn’t have happened up the hill, on the other side of Main Street. But this neighborhood doesn’t have the money, it isn’t as nice and white, so the cops treat the people who live here like enemies. And when they shoot one of my neighbors, they get away scot free,” said Hillary Gombar, a Winooski mother of two.

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  • When you threaten a law enforcement officer, convince them you intend to use a weapon you claim to have, and force the officer to decide in a split second whether to allow you to shoot them or stop you from making good on your threat to them you are responsible for the consequences. Jesse Beshaw made a very foolish decision and it cost him his life. People need to understand that police are not there to foolishly take a bullet before they shoot the suspect and I for one do not expect them to. By the time a suspect points a weapon directly at an officer the risk to the officer has increased to an unreasonable level and that is why people who interact with officers need to obey commands to STOP– SHOW YOUR HANDS– and not make sudden movements that put the officer in fear for their life or the lives of others. Murder is a strong word to be throwing around and is not warranted as often as the public or “media”has used it lately. Look at all the facts before jumping to conclusions folks.

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