Home Op-ed Letters Letters to the Editor 7.15.20

Letters to the Editor 7.15.20

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The newly painted BLACK LIVES MATTER signing and the hundreds of hearts bearing the names of African-Americans killed by police during the past year and a half. Photo by J. Gregory Gerdel

Open Letter to Officers and Comments on BLM

Editor:

THANK YOU! Not only have you been on the front lines with COVID-19, but now rallies want to dismantle you. Black Lives Do Matter. Police Lives Matter. Our own liberty and justice matters, too.

Our nation aspires to liberty and justice for all; that comes with a price. It needs muscle to uphold this. Dismantling the police is a rally cry that should make everyone take note of who wants to strip us of our freedoms. Who would protect us from crimes and seek to bring the unlawful to justice on our behalf? Agreed, in some settings there are places that need some cleaning. Thankfully, there’s not much of that in Vermont. We should toot our horns.

Do you know that 247wallst.com, who yearly monitors statistics, portrays Vermont as:

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Percentage black residents: 0.9 percent (3rd lowest)

Black homeownership rate: 24.6 percent (9th lowest)

Black incarceration rate: 2,214 per 100,000 (19th lowest)

This means only two states have a lower percentage of black residents, only eight states have a higher rate of black home ownership, and only 18 states have lower incarceration rates.

Vermont is the only state with a larger share of African American adults having graduated from college than white adults. Of African American adults, 37.0 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree — the highest share of any state — higher than the 35.1 percent of white residents with similar attainments.

The difference in incomes between white and black residents is the smallest in the country. In Vermont, African American families earn $50,933 annually, the third most of any state, about $4,000 less than the state’s typical white household. Nationally the income gap between white and black Americans is roughly $24,000.

Vermont is one of two states that allows citizens incarcerated on a felony charge to vote while in prison. Vermont therefore effectively has no legally disenfranchised black Americans; nationwide, one in every 13 African Americans is disenfranchised.

Black lives do matter. My father was at the MLK “I Have a Dream” speech in a time when these needs were much greater. There’s not a lot of need to fund inquiries into injustices here in Vermont. Perhaps Vermont should channel some BLM funding to promote awareness of our ethnic diversity and give honor to great civic leaders of all races who have sought to promote Freedom and Unity, Liberty and Justice.

Thank you Vermont police and sheriffs for being our front lines for COVID-19, for monitoring peaceful BLM rallies, and for many years of protecting our freedom. May you know our united support and gratitude.

Martha Hafner, Randolph Center

Re: Black Lives Matter on State Street

Editor:

Being a native Vermonter, I was first dismayed and then disappointed to learn that, “Black Lives Matter,” has been painted on State Street, the street in front of the Capitol Building. Are there not laws against vandalism anymore?

I did find the Zoom video of the Montpelier City Council meeting that approved said actions, watched it, and was surprised that not one person asked the question as to whether painting a political statement on State Street was even legal in regards to vandalism (Vt. State Statute 13 V.S.A. § 3701, Unlawful mischief) and/or the probation of billboards in the state (Vt. State Statute 10 V.S.A. § 495). You could almost say that the Montpelier City Council showed a blatant disregard as to whether these painting actions were even legal!

Then I read that Governor Phil Scott gave the go-ahead to spoil the street! What gives him, or any other individual, the ability to ignore State Statute? Whoever is responsible for this defacement needs to be personally, financially responsible for cleaning it up.

But maybe we have precedent now. What if I and a bunch of my friends want to paint “Biden 2020” on one of our other major roads? How about “Trump 2020”? We could also paint “Meat is Murder” or perhaps “Jesus Saves.” There appears to be nothing stopping me from painting “Jacobs Pizza” either!

I used to think that we Vermonters were just a little bit smarter than your average American citizen, but I see that that is no longer the case.

Bret R. Collier, Berlin, Vermont; Big Lake, Minnesota

East Calais Community Trust Purchases General Store Building

Editor:

On June 29, 2020 the East Calais Community Trust (ECCT) finalized the purchase of the general store building on Rt. 14. The Vermont non-profit was formed in 2019 with the goal of purchasing and renovating the historic building in the heart of the village and reopening the general store, which closed in December. The Preservation Trust of Vermont has provided fiscal sponsorship and guidance along the way.

The Community Trust sends a HUGE thank you to all supporters who donated funds and gave of their time, energy, and talents to bring this to fruition. And members are excited to begin work on the next steps of cleaning out the commercial space, beginning renovations, and searching for a new storekeeper.

Board members hope that interim pop-up events and fundraisers will generate interest and enthusiasm in the project from the greater Calais community, on the way to the eventual reopening of the store. They point to the recently launched “Extra Row” free veggies and (maybe) eggs events that take place Saturday mornings on the porch from 9 to 11. Local gardeners are encouraged to share their extra produce with families in need or those who may not have a garden.

Another benefit to the community is the building’s new Wi-Fi hot spot, which provides free high-speed internet access to anyone within range.

Along with the store lease, three existing affordable housing apartments will continue to generate revenue for the Trust. Board members hope that volunteers will step up to help with “sprucing-up” projects in the revival of the building and the store.

Donations for renovation work can be made payable to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, with a note in the memo line “for ECCT” and mailed to ECCT, PO Box 14, E. Calais, VT 05650.

Janice Ohlsson, jgohlsson@gmail.com

Denise Wheeler, cockapoo@myfairpoint.net

Marc Mihaly, marc.mihaly@gmail.com