John Klar: Vermont gangs rising and will get worse

Despite increasing gun restrictions, violent crimes and gun violence have spiked sharply in Vermont. While Progressives may seek to use these facts as reason to enact still more gun laws, improved public safety might be better served by supporting the police in an escalating battle against profiteering gangs who see Vermont as a lucrative area for expansion, not just of drug dealing and theft, but human trafficking.

Burlington voters soundly rejected a proposal to increase oversight of its shrinking police department, a harbinger that the spike in crime and property damage there is finally enlightening the community about the true costs of disconnected social justice theory. Burlington voted also to allow illegal immigrants to vote there, while imposing a carbon tax for new construction. Upside-down economic policies and a decimated police force do not bode well for the city’s (or Vermont’s) future. 

In 2022, Burlington suffered the most homicides there since 1960. Valley News reported:

The killings come as the city is also coping with an increase in shootings, some fatal or involving injuries. As of Nov. 15, the city had reported 25 gunfire incidents this year, compared to 13 in 2021 and 11 in 2020. In 2017, there was one.

Many of the shootings reported in the city from 2020 until June, when city officials held a news conference to outline their response, involved “a recurring group of individuals as perpetrators, associated individuals or victims,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said at the time.

Increasing street gang violence, clearly evident around the state and country, is an inconvenient truth for those labeling white Vermonters and their government as “systemically racist.” James Lyall, a transplant from Arizona, claims that Vermont’s legal system is “virtually defined by systemic racism.” Such claims have largely been based on the flawed analysis of Vermont incarceration rates of “people of color” that exclude the consideration of where the defendants are from, avoiding thereby any assessment of the relationship between out-of-state (gang affiliated?) criminality with Vermont’s underlying demographic. This has been repeatedly used to allege that Vermont’s police are racist, an abuse of statistics as well as an abuse of legitimate police officers — no wonder they are quitting, or choosing other professions.

Police traffic-stop data is similarly abused to portray police as racist rather than assess whether people of color may disproportionately be entering Vermont and committing violent crimes. If the race of a defendant is so pivotal in a traffic stop, why is race to be excluded in analyzing rapes, murders and fentanyl trafficking? What are the figures for violent crime in Vermont, based on skin color?

Ironically, research by the Pew Center reports that 81% of black registered voters said “violent crime is very important to their midterm vote, compared with … 56% of White voters.” This reflects the urban-rural divide, being crossed by drug-dealing, illegal-gun-toting gang members from New York City, Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts, who opportunistically travel to Vermont for personal profit.

Vermonters can read the newspaper reports of substantial gang activity by out-of-state narcotics dealers and see the impact of Progressive policies that discourage police while encouraging crime. FBI data demonstrate clear racial statistical differences in rates of commission of violent crime (which might also explain so-called disparities in police stops):

Based on data compiled by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, it found that while Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, they were 33% of persons arrested for non-fatal violent crime (NVC), which includes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and other assaults. Black people were 36% of those arrested for serious non-fatal violent crimes (SNVC), including rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Progressives histrionically freak out at such facts, and allege it is racist to assess racial criminality, while they themselves racially warp statistics to wrongly attack police performing an increasingly dangerous job. That hypocrisy will only serve for so long, as declining public safety in Burlington and around the state counters their false, patently racist narrative. 

Gang activity has been increasing steadily both nationally and in Vermont. Increasing fentanyl deaths are matched by escalating violence. This inconvenient truth is becoming impossible for clueless progressive dreamers to gaslight: 

Vermont is now tracking more specific gun data, as incidents of gun violence rise throughout the state. In 2022, there have been 94 gun fire situations across the Green Mountain State.The unprecedented numbers, Commissioner Schirling said, are happening all over the state. Some areas, however, are experiencing more problems.

Burlington leads the state in increased violence, which spiked following the flight of police chased out of the city after the George Floyd killing, when Burlington officers were alleged to have used excessive force against people of color. As Seven Days reported:

Officers exited swiftly, plunging the city into what Weinberger and his allies call a “public safety crisis.” … Tyler Pastorok, an organizer with People for Police Accountability, previously told Seven Days that opponents to the board were ignoring the real issue: Burlington police arrest and use force against Black residents at a disproportionate rate. The proposal called for “rebuilding trust with communities that have deep, historic — and rightfully so — distrust in policing systems,” Pastorok said.

This chicken-and-egg problem is becoming the elephant in Vermont’s living room — is the allegedly “disproportionate” arrest of people of color in fact directly proportionate to their guilt, or their gang affiliation? According to an April 2022 summary, 13% of all murders in the United States are associated with gangs; over 40% of gangs come from large cities; some 2,000 murders each year are gang-related; 48.9% of violent crime is gang-related, and 42.9% of property crime; the number of gang members is increasing in 49% of jurisdictions; the FBI identifies 33,000 gangs with 1.4 million active members; and 50% of gang members are Hispanic or Latino, 32% black, and 10% white. Murders (75% nationally involving guns) have increased dramatically in the Northeast, by 36.1% from 2019-2020.

These are simply crime statistics that reveal what common sense shows — there is an opioid crisis, and money to be made. Gangs are increasing distribution of drugs but also human trafficking — one Portland study determined that 49.1% of human trafficking victims were connected to gangs; 96.4% of those victims were female. Most fentanyl, cocaine and heroin enters America through Mexico; most of those drugs are transported by gangs; most members of those gangs are Hispanic. 

If Vermont police arrest these extremely violent offenders, they are condemned as racists. No wonder crime in Burlington and Vermont is skyrocketing. It will doubtless get worse, and the number of crime victims (of any color) increase, until voters (like in Burlington) wake up to the realities denied by disconnected social justice zealots.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Burlington Police Department

24 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont gangs rising and will get worse

  1. Re: ‘This chicken-and-egg problem’, Systemic Racism, ‘Your people’, ‘Black people’, ‘White people’, and Angela Davis.

    IMHO: this is nonsensical rhetoric. ‘Crime’ (like sh-t) happens. Genealogy is of no consequence. The content of one’s character is what matters.

    Six degrees of separation theorizes that every person in the world is connected to every other person by a chain of family members, friends, or acquaintances that number no more than 5 people.

    Consider the reference to Angela Davis in comments below. Davis is the 1960s American Marxist political activist and gun owner of FBI Most Wanted fame, who recently learned she is a descendent of a slave owner (her fourth great-grandfather on her mother’s side). Ms. Davis was also surprised to learn that she is a descendent of one of the Mayflower folks (William Brewster) who established Plymouth Plantation (that other 1619esque American colony never mentioned in CRT studies).

    So, what if when Vermont police arrest extremely violent offenders, they are condemned as racists? Condemned by who? Anyone emphasizing our cosmetic differences as causal, are as guilty of racism as anyone who implies that race is inordinately consequential to any social outcome. That Vermont gangs are on the rise is a problem. Race-baiting is a diversion.

  2. I don’t care I just think that every state is going through the same thing. I’m a Plattsburgh NYS resident living in Burlington VT and I don’t see anything different about this! It’s called your leadership in the states that run the state to help the problem solved. It’s the democrats and republicans who don’t care what happens to us little people and only care about themselves to make money from taxpayers. I support my fellow officers, military officers, veterans, firefighters, healthcare workers, and ambulance workers!

  3. Vermont gangs? There aren’t any Vermont gangs. Look at where these characters are coming from. Just because they recruit a few Vermont kids in prison or the street. These gangs are not indigenous to Vermont.

  4. When the “Criminal Justice System” fails to address the problem, the citizens will have no other alternative than to protect themselves and their property accordingly. In other words, if you, my neighbor, are unwilling to vote for representatives that will legislate to provide me with security of person and possessions, and if you, my legislators, fail to abide by the Constitution and the needs of the People to provide said security, then that portion of society that needs and desires protection has no other choice.

    Constitutionally, as per Chapter I, Article 7th…

    “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.”

  5. “Despite increasing gun restrictions,…” Because liberal, progressive, democrats consistently fail to understand that the laws they create to violate the rights of law abiding citizens have nothing to do with gun violence or crime. As long as the majority of voters continue to support the socialists, we will be viewed as “subjects” rather than citizens, and criminals will continue to have their way.

  6. The political elite that benefit and profit from the drug trade are not going to stop it. Whether it is Los Angeles or NYC in the 1980’s, Montreal in the 1990’s, or Burlington, VT in the 2000’s, the problem is never fixed on purpose. Hunter Biden, exhibit A. William Jefferson Clinton incarcerated more Black Americans than any other modern-day president. Recall three strikes your out? There was more cocaine and heroin flowing through the country in that era it made Daddy Bush proud and wealthy. The drug trade is a division of the industrial military complex – why do you think we stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years? It is the land of poppy fields nonetheless. With open borders to the South and to the North, the drugs and money are flowing in and out on purpose. The Soros financed justice system ensures it will continue with impunity. Address the corruption at the top if any official is truly interested or concerned about law and order.

  7. LACK OF !!! Is the problem!!! Public failing to participate. Voter turn out? Respect zero! It’s ok you don’t have to do that go sit over there and get out of my hair. Corruption! You give me this and give you that!!! Accountability! Zero why because of the above and more. People are like chickens one trying to lead some not wanting to follow the rest just going about surviving and at night you all go to bed together and do it all over till the next day and a fox comes along then you all stick together. Get back to Teaching RESPECT and PARTICIPATION and ACCOUNTABILITY. THEN getting along just takes care of itself.

  8. If you get too bummed out by all this lawlessness, some vicarious relief without drugs can be had watching the Arkansas State Police on the utubes…
    It makes up for not driving anywhere the last couple years.
    Usually ends up in a thrilling PIT maneuver. There’s lots of police chase videos. Rarely a dull moment.
    Interestingly, the drivers tend to be of one race. Oh, I get it, RACE! Better than nascar.
    They always have an excuse too. Enforcing traffic laws is rayciss!

  9. Most of you are probably not old enough to remember when all the gangs and shootings were centered on control of a different illicit substance, one which is still in use today.

    The gangs fighting each other for the control of the illegal market was not only extremely bloody– it was responsible for the popularization of the tommy gun among the criminal classes– but also led to the corruption of the cops on the street, the District Attorneys and many judges as well. It took one exceptionally brainy gang leader to convene all the rest and agree to co-operate in criminal enterprise. “We’ll call it our thing,” said Al Capone, “Cosa Nostra.” Take a bow, Al.

    The fighting stopped, but the corruption continued UNTIL the substance was legalized. In 1932, Prohibition was repealed, ending the excessive profitability that criminalization brought to the peddling of beer and liquor. We no longer seen unemployed men signing on to ride shotgun on beer trucks or trying to hook youngsters on vodka just outside schools– and why? Because IT DOESN’T PAY. Re-criminalize it, and the same evils will return.

    If you want to get rid of gangs with guns, de-criminalize everything and have it regulated and sold in stores the way booze is. Sure, addiction will still be a form of slow suicide, but we won’t have desperate people trying to make a buck by addicting others or cornering the market. Treat violators the way we treat drunks. And use all that DEA money for housing and therapy.

    And– it’s not a desperate Black thing; it’s a desperate Poor thing.

    • You say this? “And– it’s not a desperate Black thing; it’s a desperate Poor thing.”

      That is one of the more racist things I’ve seen…your “LOGIK” thus says that Blacks are poor, and all poor commit crime? REAALLLLY? I have seen that a lot of black drug dealers are swimming in cash, fancy & expensive clothes, cars, Rolex’s…..So, you have never seen a middle class Black, or a successful Black person? Ever seen a Black Doctor or Lawyer?…I have, and I judge them as MLK would…by “the content of their character…not the color of their skin.”

      Liberals, Dems and Progressives are the most racist folks I know…all by them is judged by the color of skin, sex, gender etc….and that is totally opposite of what Martin Luther King died for. I think MLK would be disgusted at race, crime & consequences of the BTV Progressives…. no morals to guide.

      • “Liberals, Dems and Progressives are the most racist folks I know”
        Xactly correct. From their roots on Being the party of the KKK they still want to control the black population by shoveling free s*it at them and throwing down the lies about the Right faction being the raciest. The fact is the right has always fought for the blacks to move OFF the plantation and live free lives. The Left is a multitude of miserable self centered egoist who think they are the smartest apple in the bucket when in fact they are the rotten ones in the bucket.

        • Ummm, the Civil Rights Acts of 1885 wish to disagree with you. They were passed by your people….

      • Like any exploitative system (, Amway, Dare to be Great), pyramiding in the drug trade has its rewards. But, from the Federal Reserve comes this verification:

        “In the United States, the average Black and Hispanic or Latino households earn about half as much as the average White household and own only about 15 to 20 percent as much net wealth. . . . Looking at the population as a whole, White households hold 86.8 percent of overall wealth in the country according to the 2019 SCF. . . ” (Source:

        As for the relationship between crime and poverty rather than crime and race, there’s this: “Adults in poverty are three times more likely to be arrested than those who aren’t, and people earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level are 15 times more likely to be charged with a felony—which, by definition, carries a longer sentence—than people earning above that threshold.” (Source:

        So, it’s not a desperate Black thing; it’s a desperate Poor thing.

      • Martin Luther King has loss favor with BLM blacks, they prefer the militant types like Angela Davis, Malcolm X and Carmichael Stokely.

        On a panel I heard Henry Louis Gates, Jr, another black professor (forgot his name) and Ken Burns all agree that it is not so much a black issue as an economic issue and that blacks and ‘the poor’ ought to unite.

        • But, Joy, if the Blacks and the poor unite, they’ll do terrible things like enact tax reform and affordable universal health care, and pour money into public education. We can’t have that!!!

          This is why it’s important to keep the poor focused on the problem of gangs and the threats to white supremacy. Hey, look! A squirrel!

  10. I have opted out of the judicial system here in Vermont. Nothing happens to criminals so I will provide my own safety and do what is needed to the next junkie that attempts to break into my house, my vehicles or any of my neighbors. The aforementioned junkie will simply cease to exist.

  11. Again, the “systemic racism” argument relies on “systems”. In Burlington Vermont, Socialists have been in control of the “systems” since 1982. Statewide, Vermont’s liberal/socialist cadre have had over two decades of control of these same “systems”. Therefore, the “racism” so touted by those in control of the “systems” is of their own design.
    As those in control expand their totalitarian “democratic socialist” ideology we see that prostitution is about to become legal in the Green Mountains, further exacerbating the gang, drug and human trafficking problems Mr. Klar outlines in this article.

  12. It’s way past time to give our police force back the power to stop the outlaws bringing drugs and violence to our state. Let them do their job, make our courts send the criminals to jail, no matter what color they are. Montpelier and Burlington have to smarten up, if you want more crime and violence near your families, maybe the people that vote against doing the right thing, should move yourselves to new york.

  13. Some Burlington activists maintain that the diminished staffing of the police has nothing to do with the increase in violent crime. This is the first sign that common sense is missing from their arguments. You can rationally offer the philosophy that the PENALTIES for a crime do not act as a deterrent because most criminals dont expect to be caught and convicted. However, the LIKELIHOOD of getting caught certainly IS a deterrent, and that obviously has a lot to do with police staffing. The likelihood of a CONVICTION is still not a deterrent because we have a leftist State’s Attorney who considers too many extenuating factors of an alleged criminal’s upbringing and blames a predominantly “white” society for it’s “institutionalized racism”. The left maintains a philosophy that “we can’t keep locking up our young, Black men”, which in itself reeks of racial bias. Who gets locked up should have nothing to do with ancestry or skin melanin. Vermont has a hugely disproportionate number of Black men incarcerated because of the endless cycle: gang members who are predominantly Black get sent up here, get busted, some go to prison, and new ones are sent up to replace them. The FBI crime statistics document this phenomenon adequately. It is left wing activists who cherry pick the data and statistics while obsessing about race to twist it to fit their “social justice” narrative.
    If you want to anger a conservative, tell them a lie…if you want to anger a liberal, confront them with the truth.

  14. They don’t need a permit to do business.
    They can set up shop anywhere in Vermont, without needing a permit.
    When they break the law, they are set free.
    They don’t have to pay fines for illegal business operation.
    They are given free housing by their sugar mammas on the Vermont tax dollar.
    They made the laws less stringent for getting caught with heavy narcotics.

    If you get caught, you will frequently be let go because the officer will be accused of profiling, illegal stop, using too much force, not being polite, perhaps singing a rap song that is found offensive.

    In every town they know who is dealing the drugs, where they live and hours of operation, yet the state does nothing.

    However, if you are Costco and want to break the good ole boy gas cartel, we’ll go on for 10+ year before a permit, and then restrict your hours of operation.

    Drug dealing is the most profitable, easiest business to operate within the Vermont boarders, so business thrives!!!!!! Vermont, here’s your sign.

  15. As all things Liberals, Dems and Progressives say….”A lie will circle the earth, before the truth can cross the street”. No matter how much they lie, twist & insist VT is racist…the facts are that the majority of violent crime, drugs, guns, shootings, robberies and murders….are too often from out of state blacks or hispanics engaged in criminal activity. Isn’t it odd that no liberal gives a damn about the White VT residents getting their lives destroyed by drugs? What of the White deaths by drug overdose? Heroin? Fentanyl? No one cares about those White Vermonter lives? Nope.

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