By Guy Page
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger responded to a reported white-on-black mass shooting this weekend with this press statement: “I am outraged and heartbroken by the news unfolding about what is clearly a racially targeted mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. This type of hate should have no place in our country. … As I’ve said too many times, it is far too easy for violent white supremacists, dangerous criminals, and unstable individuals in this country to get their hands on guns.”
We’re outraged and heartbroken too, Mr. Mayor. Ten lives snuffed out. Racism is an awful motive for murder.
So is greed. So is a drug-fueled rage. So is an empty hole where your empathy used to be. So is … well, anything. Which makes us wonder, Mr. Mayor, where is your press statement about the five people shot and killed this weekend in Chicago? No doubt, five dead is a light weekend for gun murder by Chicago standards. But throw in the six from the previous weekend and you’ve got one more distraught mother in Chicago than in Buffalo.
But, huh. No press release.
Maybe it’s because Chicago already has gun control. Which doesn’t seem to slow down the shooters. Maybe it’s because the typical Chicago murder involves a young man of color pulling the trigger.
Now let’s repeat: what happened in Buffalo was an outrage. The difference between the Holocaust and the Buffalo mass racial murder is just one of scale. America can’t just let it slide. Neither should we let black-on-black crime slide, whether in the Jim Crow “we don’t care as long as they just kill each other” era or the current BLM “blame systemic racism, not the shooter” era.
Because, y’know, Black Lives really do Matter. But somehow there’s always an excuse for not getting too worked up when a little black girl is shot down on the street, if the killer is a young man with no father and no hope.
And speaking of shootings, Mr. Mayor — at 4 a.m. this Sunday morning a man was shot and injured in the North Willard Street, Burlington neighborhood. This happened in your backyard and on your watch. Unlike the mass murder in Buffalo, this is a shooting that you can do something about. That you have to do something about.
Were there enough police officers available at 4 a.m. to respond quickly? We know you’re not as ‘defund the police’ wacko as your City Council, but the buck stops with you. What’s the plan to stop the outbreak of shooting in your city?
For that matter, what’s your plan, Gov. Scott? And you, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling? At last week’s press conference, you both were asked about the unprecedented spate of drug-related car chases and shootings — many of them by out-of-state drug criminals.
A reporter (not Vermont Daily Chronicle) asked: ”We’ve had some pretty remarkable gun violence in Highgate, Springfield and elsewhere. What are your thoughts on what we’re seeing?”
Scott: “Yeah, yeah I’m going to ask Commissioner Schirling to weigh in on this. But I’m obviously concerned when we see it so widespread. It seems to all revolve around illegal drug trafficking. So that’s a big concern. Commissioner Schirling?”
Schirling: I think the phrasing of the question is probably, that also contains the best answer, it is remarkable having watched, in particular in Vermont for 30 plus years since, the widest swath of geographic distribution and fastest frequency of these kinds of events that I think any of us have ever seen. It is very concerning.
“There’s great work being done in communities to try to address drugs from the treatment level all the way up. I do think we are having some success with the investigations, but that is not much comfort after bullets are moving through the air in various communities a couple of times a week at the current pace. So the most important message I think for Vermonters is you’re seeing activity that’s problematic even if it is not at the highest level of gun violence, the problems in the community, please engage your community leaders, law enforcement and others to try to stem this tide as swiftly as possible.”
To sum up the response of our state leaders: ‘Yep. Worst it’s ever been. We’re investigating. Engage with your community leaders.’
What a depressing response.
Mr. Mayor, Gov. Scott, Commissioner Schirling: we know police are trying. We also know they’re understaffed and overwhelmed. Vermont has become a hostile place for professional police officers and a safer-than-ever place for drug dealers. Legislation eats away at the concept of drug crime and necessary protections for police. Some prosecutors consider most drug crime as unworthy of notice.
The drug violence is growing. The cops are leaving.
City and state leaders: what are you going to do about it?
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.