Gov. Phil Scott proclaimed Tuesday, the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, "George Floyd Remembrance Day" in Vermont, and asked people across the state to acknowledge systemic racism in order to work toward full equality for everyone.
In Burlington's City Hall Park, participants in a silent remembrance service knelt, laid with their cheeks against the ground, closed their eyes deep in thought, and even sobbed.
The group spent 9 minutes and 29 seconds of silence reflecting on the murder of George Floyd, who spent that same amount of time one year ago dying under a police officer's knee in Minneapolis.
"I think it's a good thing that people are beginning to realize that change needs to come, but it is very unfortunate that a Black person needs to die for change to come," said Mohamed Abdi of The Black Perspective, who took part in Tuesday afternoon's demonstration.
Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, D-Vermont, who also attended the gathering, urged Vermonters in a tweet to pause at noontime Tuesday to honor Floyd's memory and to work toward an anti-racist world.
Scott, a Republican, discussed his proclamation during a briefing on the state's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All of us need to work together — pull in the same direction — in order to get to the goal of treating one another equitably," Scott said.
The governor added that he believes education and a cabinet-level racial equity director will help one of the nation's whitest states to root out bias and inequity.
"The United States — it's a family, right?" observed C D Mattison, who pushed for the statewide proclamation and who organized the gathering in the park. "This country, it's an abusive family. We're done keeping the family secret."
Those gathered in City Hall Park insisted the conviction of Floyd's killer does not mean victory in the work to dismantle racism in all its forms — not even close.
"The question is, it's been a year: what have you done?" asked Ferene Paris Meyer, who took part in Tuesday's silent demonstration in Burlington. "How have you been reflecting and creating action in your life to be a part of a much-needed collective change that needs to be on all of us?"
Paris Meyer and others at the silent demonstration promised to stay committed, to keep advocating for policy that uplifts everyone, and not to lose sight of the common humanity of their neighbors — all in the name of George Floyd and others who suffered from racism and discrimination.