In the announcement of the Vail Valley Peace March planned in support of Black Lives Matter — slated for tonight at 6 p.m. starting at the Covered Bridge in Vail — organizer Carrie Unthank Ruedisueli acknowledged that Eagle County is pretty far removed from the uprisings happening in metropolitan areas nationwide in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
But that doesn’t mean local residents should be consigned to complacence, she argues.
“This is for those of you who feel a little too quiet and cozy up here in our privileged bubble at a time like this, those of you who want to show recognition to the good cops with our local police force, those of you who want accountability held for any discrimination or corruption of any kind in the justice system by setting a standard, and most importantly those of you who want to send a message to the black community in our country that we hear their pain and our community stands with them with deep respect, strongly against racism,” reads her Facebook announcement.
In response, local law enforcement officers including representatives from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Avon Police Department, Eagle Police Department, and Vail Police Department have accepted the invitation to participate in the march.
“We as the law enforcement community were shocked and appalled by the treatment of Mr. Floyd. It goes against all our training,” said Sheriff James van Beek in an interview Wednesday morning. “All of us view what happened as a criminal act. It was gross negligence at the very least.”
With national outrage over the incident spreading to the Vail Valley, van Beek said local law enforcement wants to capitalize on the long-standing relationships officers forged with community members.
“We felt that we have worked very hard in this valley, as law enforcement, with community residents to really build bridges,” he said. “This incident really makes us all realize we haven’t come as far as we think we have. We need to continue to work.”
The expectations for tonight’s march are clear. Voices are welcome, violence is not. Ruedisueli specified that protesters are encouraged to bring signs and in this age of COVID-19, everyone is encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Children are welcome to participate.
“This gathering is about using our voices in unity and should be a peaceful demonstration of love to all races and walks of life,” Ruedisueli stated.
Tonight’s march is the second march this week in Vail. On Sunday, a crowd off around 50 people participated in a march organized by Zack Varon.