Letters to the Editor (7/1/20) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published July 1, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Not All 'Warm and Fuzzy'

[Re "Rising Stars," June 24]: The article states: "Driscoll emphasized that the company has avoided layoffs by redeploying workers to meet both business and community needs."

This is not true as a blanket statement. A number of King Arthur Flour employees who worked in the prepared foods division are taking severance agreements since their positions have been eliminated, and many can't or won't work in other positions where they could be "redeployed" because they do not want to undertake the personal risk of working in warehouse conditions or cannot make childcare arrangements to do so. They are required to sign non-disparagement agreements in order to receive their severance.

They are officially being laid off. King Arthur recently bulked up its HR team to facilitate this process. 

When reporting on a company, no matter how warm and fuzzy the idea of a B Corporation makes you feel, try not to just carry water for their PR effort.

Jacob Elliot

Philadelphia, PA

Editor's note: When the story was reported and published, the statement that King Arthur had avoided layoffs was accurate. The company has since confirmed that, due to ongoing reduced workload at its café, store and schools, it has been obliged to lay off some employees.

BLM Wrong About BPD

[Re "Cut the Police," June 17]: Ignorant statements about the Burlington Police Department by Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington have no place in shaping police policy. They say, "As the police officers of the BPD have shown an inability to de-escalate and an instinct of violence, their presence does not promote safety in our community."

On April 23, rookie BPD Officer Luz Winters put her life on the line to subdue an African American male who fired a gun into Champlain Farms. She did so without a weapon, after witnessing him fire three rounds into the store. From my office, I've repeatedly watched BPD de-escalate mentally ill individuals violently acting out. Twice I saw BPD officers calm men with long hunting knives threatening people. I watched BPD nonviolently subdue a man who was screaming he was going to murder someone in City Hall Park as a group of kindergartners approached on a field trip. I know officers who have been spit on, punched and screamed at without retaliating. I know a trooper who went to arrest a man for impregnating his 13-year-old sister; when the perpetrator tried to stab him with a hunting knife, the trooper disarmed him without harm.

In the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd and similar injustices by law enforcement, people are justifiably angry. All police brutality matters, and it must stop. However, BLM's false claims are a slap in the face to Officer Winters and to all good officers in Vermont who daily put themselves in harm's way to protect our community. Reform, yes. Cuts, no.

Ben Luna


Blue-Light Flashback

[Re "Cut the Police," June 17]: I was arrested and then abused by the Burlington police 10 years ago. I was taking a left in my car on South Winooski Avenue from Main Street next to Kinko's when the police stopped me. I waited in my gray Peugeot for 15 minutes, after which time I got out and stood next to the car. That was a mistake, but what occurred after that was unnecessary. The policeman shouted at me, and then proceeded to come over and shove me repeatedly against my car. I told him to stop, but he continued. I yelled over to people on the sidewalk to observe the policeman's behavior. That seemed to rile him up even more.

The next thing that happened is that the officer asked if I was Latino. I told him what he said was racist and discriminatory and I was just some old white guy. He eventually called for other police. They placed me in a paddy wagon, where I was put in a cell at police headquarters for an hour and then let go. The charges were eventually dropped.

I went before the Burlington Police Commission and told my story. The members looked quite indifferent. The police chief at the time, Alana Ennis, showed no interest in what I had to say.

After, when I would see a police car, my blood pressure would rise. In some small way, I felt what it must be like to be a person of color, fearful of the police. This was a new experience for me — one I have never forgotten. Any time there is an incident of abuse by a police officer, I think of the time I was stopped by the flashing blue lights.

We need more than a police commission in Burlington; we need a review board that can make decisions on police intimidation. Hopefully the recent protests and discussion by the city council will bring swift action for major changes to the Burlington Police Department.  

Ron Krupp

South Burlington

On Racism

I would like to address my hastily written vote explanation quoted in [Off Message: "VT House Republicans Decry Reference to 'Racist' Trump Tweets in Juneteenth Resolution," June 19], in which I describe my great-grandfather, who belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, as being "known for being lazy and mean, which fits the model of what I have seen of racists."

To avoid perpetuating the myth that only mean, lazy people are racist, the word "overt" should have preceded "racists." Racism is innate to our culture through ongoing implicit and explicit biases that make doctors less responsive to Black patients and job applicants with "Black" names less likely to be chosen. From the way news outlets represent crime suspects based on skin color to the lack of accurate, comprehensive data in our textbooks to Confederate statues erected during the Jim Crow era...

Those statues eclipse and dishonor the history of the strong, resilient Black people who survived the deprivations and cruelties of the forced march and Middle Passage and who built the early foundations of our nation's wealth and infrastructure that allowed us to quickly become a world power. Those of us with the best intentions cannot avoid having racial bias because we are products of a culture that neither fully acknowledges our history nor embraces the discomfort required to move forward. I hope we can make some important progress now.

Charen Fegard


Fegard is a Democratic state representative from Berkshire.

Fact-Check, Please!

When you publish letters to the editor without verifying their accuracy, you are doing a disservice to the readers and perpetuating false narratives.

James Leas is incorrect [Feedback: "Cops Have Too Much Power," June 17] when he states that George Floyd was "one of 1,000 unarmed Americans murdered each year by killer cops."

From the Washington Post crime data: "In 2015, police shot and killed 94 unarmed individuals, a number that fell to 51 in 2016 before rising to 68 in 2017. This year, police have shot and killed 18 unarmed people, eight fewer than at the same time last year."

In 2018, there were seven unarmed black men and 10 unarmed white men killed by police in the U.S.

That's way too many but quite a few less than the 1,000 Leas mistakenly claims.

To say they were "murdered" is also wrong.

One should read the entire article closely before citing incorrect data.

Paul Young


Editor's note: Young is right. The headline on the Washington Post story boldly claims "1,026 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year" — and more than 5,000 since 2015, which works out to be 1,000-plus per year. But that number includes armed individuals. The five-year total for unarmed victims is 353.