BURLINGTON, VT- With the ability to critique and criticize people and figures more anonymously than ever, online-trolling via forums and social media has become more widely adopted than its roots from the early-aughts online destinations.
So a citizen based out of Vermont was mortified to find out that the Burlington, Vermont police chief had created a fake Twitter account toO earlier this year to critique the boisterous critic.
So, what does the critic want exactly? Well, to get the chief fired for ten, relatively tame trolling posts from the account created and deleted within one hour.
Back in July of this year, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo created an anonymous online persona on Twitter known as @WinkleWatchers to poke a little fun at one of his most outspoken critics Charles Winkleman.
While many may not be overly familiar with specifically Winkleman outside the Burlington area, most folks know someone just like him. A not-so-deep dive into his own Twitter feed showed post on December 13 that stated the following:
“To all my new followers – if you like 1) hyper local politics 2) anti-capitalism 3) anti-fascism 4) Jewish stuff 5) housing organizing 6) shitposting 7) lists You’ve come to the right place”
To all my new followers – if you like 1) hyper local politics 2) anti-capitalism 3) anti-fascism 4) Jewish stuff 5) housing organizing 6) shitposting 7) lists
You’ve come to the right place
— Left Wing PC Mania (@HippiesPlowVT) December 13, 2019
For thosE unfamiliar with the term “Sh*tposting”, it’s a form of online trolling lacking genuine criticism, but rather just resorting to inflammatory statement and insults.
Going by the moniker “Left Wing PC Media”; this chap’s online endeavors consist of nothing but online trolling of political figures both local and national.
Now, this same person is clutching his pearls at the thought of getting critical repostings of his content by the chief of police, anonymously, back in July and thinks he should be fired for what Winkleman does on a near hourly-cadence. If it strikes you as hypocritical, it’s because it is.
Interestingly enough, Chief del Pozo actually openly admitted to creating the online account to Mayor Miro Weinberger, whom he directly reports to, back in July and then opted to go on a medical leave.
The reason behind wanting to take a leave of absence was because the chief genuinely felt like engaging in the online trolling was out of character, and thought there might be a connection to his behavior and a 2018 head injury.
On a recent phone interview with a local news outlet, Chief del Pozo described his head injury sustained during a crash while mountain biking in the Adirondacks and also his embarrassment for stooping to the level of Winklmen:
“My skull was fractured in three places, two different brain bleeds. I went back to work right away, but [the head injuries] take a long time to heal. The thought of what happened then is out of character. It’s something I’ve never done before or since… it made no sense and was clearly not the right thing to do.”
There’s genuine remorse coming from the chief, who isn’t solely excusing his behavior due to a head injury, but also used the six-weeks leave to seek treatment, noting:
“What I did was wrong and I regret it. It’s something that private citizens do quite often, but it’s not appropriate for a public official.”
The key issue being that not just private citizens engage in online critique and trolling, but that’s literally Winklemen’s bread and butter through online activity.
Despite the chief owning what he did as being tasteless, which the behavior literally consisted over a period of an hour, Winklemen is saying the mental health shouldn’t be even mentioned:
“That they are using mental health is entirely BS. Not only did the chief lie, the mayor covered it up. The idea that mental health is the issue here is just incredibly disingenuous. I think the chief and the deputies should step down.”
So why is it that Winklemen is accusing the mayor of “covering up” this scandal?
Because the mayor never made a public statement back in July that the chief of police confided to Mayor Weinberger that he screwed around on Twitter for an hour under a pseudonym and made a total of roughly 10 posts that mildy mocked Winklemen’s online rantings.
It seems that the mayor just might have thought it didn’t rise to the level of scandal-level public interest.
What led to Winklemen actually finding out that del Pozo was the anonymous online user back in July of this year, was the chief willingly admitting to creating the account to local news outlet Seven Days.
While the chief could have denied it, he simply admitted he stupidly did some online trolling. During the interview with the outlet he stated:
“I would value the opportunity to apologize to Mr. Winkleman, to explain that I was wrong, but I don’t want to do it in a way that just seems opportunistic. It should be when he is ready and on his terms. I owe him that.”
Overall, the chief seems pretty reasonable, and maybe even overly apologetic for referring to Winklemen as “Chicky Troll” in a hodge-podge of re-posts of the admitted “sh*tposter’s” own Twitter page.
Winklemen even said that the ten posts by the chief caused him stress for months and has caused him damage. I thought sh*itposters were supposed to be fairly resilient; I guess not.
Despite the drama being ultimately created by the troll, Mayor Weinberger is treating this as small as it genuinely is. Apparently, the mayor verbally reprimanded the Chief when he returned to duty this past September and left it at that.
Since returning from a leave of absence and receiving some medical treatment, according to a Burlington police email sent to Seven Days, Weinberger said he’s “back to the old Chief.”
Now let’s keep in mind what town we’re talking about.
In October, city council members in Burlington passed a resolution in a 10-2 vote that will let non-citizens to vote in local elections.
Councilman Adam Roof sponsored the resolution. His argument? That people here illegally are still residents of the city. He said they should be allowed to vote regardless of whether or not they are U.S. citizens.
“The right to vote is more important now than ever before,” Roof said. “All residents have the right, in my eyes, to participate in the local democratic process, and the highest level of participation in that process is being able to cast your vote.”
Council President Kurt Wright voted against the bill. He’s one of only two council members to do so. According to him (and anyone who actually gives a damn about America), voting is a privilege reserved for American citizens.
“I think that’s important. I would not expect to move to another country and not become a citizen and expect to be voting in their elections,” said Wright, a Republican.
He said it blatantly disrespects the will of the people.
“We voted on this just a few years ago and the citizens of Burlington voted significantly against it so I’m not supportive of this proposal.”
Burlington is the hometown of 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
It’s also considered the largest city in Vermont, with estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau putting it at about 42,000 people. It’s also the home of the University of Vermont, which hosts at least 10,000 undergraduate students.
Before it can become law, the resolution needs approval from the state legislature.
In the meantime, a city councilor there is also pushing to disarm police officers in the Queen City.
“How much is the lethal force — is it really causing at the end of the day, more harm than benefit?” said Perri Freeman, a self-proclaimed progressive representing the city.
She floated the idea at a recent council meeting. Her suggestion was that communities should be thinking about new ways of policing in the United States.
According to Freeman, she spent lots of time in Iceland and police are unarmed there.
Where is the “eyeroll” emoji when you need one?
She tries to make the argument that there are only a few times that police need weapons.
You know, like the recent “mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso and such”.
She also added that “the day in and day out of police work is not engaging with that”, and so they apparently don’t need guns.
She argues it’s time to change the culture of policing. She argues that current policing a reaction to “systemic problems like inequality”.
Here’s the good news.
Right now, it’s only conversations she’s having with other local politicians or police leaders – but apparently she’s trying to gauge support from the Burlington community.
According to the head of Burlington’s police officers union, such a plan “wouldn’t fit” in any American city.
“There are a lot of guns around, and we as the police try to put ourselves in the position of advantage all the time, and to show up to an armed incident unarmed? I can’t think of anything more disadvantaged than that,” said Dan Gilligan, president of the Burlington Police Officer’s Association.
Translation: go back under the rock you’ve been hiding under.
Don’t take it personally, Freeman wants cops to know. Her goal is simply to “keep everyone safe”.
“It’s not an overnight thing. It’s a gradual program. It’s talking about how to we really shift and talk about doing things maybe differently in a way that might be better in the long run,” she said.
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She’s not the first genius to push for unarmed police officers.
Last year in Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler pushed for unarmed police officers. They’d be “Public Safety Support Specialists”, or PS3s, who would be non-sworn officers who do not carry guns.
“They will be engaged in the community in non-emergency calls, so that’s things like property crimes, break-ins,” Wheeler tells WW.
The concept came from a proposal in the 2016 police union contract approved under then-Mayor Charlie Hales. The idea was to create Community Service Officers who would respond to minor property crimes and nuisance calls, among other things.
So where did they find the money? By cutting the Mounted Patrol – or cops on horseback – from the 2018-2018 city budget.
The actual deadline was set for January 1, 2019 to implement the PS3s – but it was a date that they didn’t anticipate having the PS3s hired by.
The Portland Police Bureau says it would begin processing some background checks for potential hires in January.
But there remained a dispute about how autonomous the unarmed officers will be.
Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner, a police officer and staunch supporter of law and order, says the PS3s will not respond to calls for service without a sworn officer. That said… they might provide support by manning the front desks at precincts or waiting for tow trucks at car accidents.
It’s a much smaller and less public role than what Portland mayors have pledged.