Burlington Police: Protesters Intended To Provoke Confrontation
08/02/12 5:07PM By Kirk Carapezza
Burlington's Police Chief says his department is gaining a clearer picture of what happened Sunday when his officers and protesters clashed outside a downtown hotel.
New England Governors and Premiers from Eastern Canada had gathered at the hotel for their annual conference. A group of protesters tried to block a driveway as dignitaries tried to leave.
Videos and photographs posted later online show that after a few protesters refused to clear the sidewalk some officers fired sting ball pellets at them. Others used pepper spray.
The incident has prompted a lot of debate in Burlington as well as online about what happened.
Chief Michael Schirling says his department is reviewing the incident, and he believes protesters arrived outside the hotel intending to provoke a confrontation.
"There are a variety of things that seem to point that way," Schirling said Thursday. "At the scene in front of the driveway at the Hilton there are people dressed in black bandanas wearing goggles. There are people that have milk, which was eventually used to decontaminate folks who had been sprayed with pepper spray. That's a tactic that we're familiar with from watching other protests unfold."
In reviewing Sunday's clash with protesters, Chief Schirling says he and his staff want to learn what they can do better.
Demonstrators and their lawyer are calling for a public dialogue about the events that led to the confrontation.