Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

Another BLM Brouhaha, This Time in Essex

Hey, remember when a couple of QAnon-ish Trumpers ran for Barre City Council because they were upset over the flying of the “Black Lives Matter” flag? Well, we got us another BLM hater.

Meet Liz Cady, candidate for Essex Westford School Board (election 4/13). Her brand of fringe politics is more subtle than the Barre Boys, but it’s pretty out there. Since the Essex Reporter’s bland ‘n boring candidate profile didn’t dig into her anti-BLM advocacy, it falls to this here blog to fill the gap.

Cady is running against two-term incumbent Liz Subin. And if you carefully read the above campaign mailer, you’ll see quite a few plausibly deniable conservative dog whistles. But let’s get to a couple of telling details first.

Cady doesn’t say so on the flyer, but both of her children are in private school. She tries to elide this inconvenient fact on the flip side of her mailer, which starts “Like all parents, I want my two school-age children to receive the best education possible.”

She’s a district resident and (presumably) a taxpayer, so there’s nothing wrong with her running for school board. But if I were a district voter, I’d think twice about electing someone who has pulled her kids out of the schools.

But the bigger deal is her antipathy toward Black Lives Matter. Last year, after more than 100 students signed a petition to fly the BLM flag, the school board voted to do so. Last September, Cady spoke to the school board during public comment time and unleashed an often ungrammatical screed that, I am not kidding, called BLM a carbon copy of the Nazi movement. (Meeting is archived online; her comments start at about the 18:50 mark.)

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Seems to be a Lily-White Thread Running Through Our News

Since then, it’s been almost completely worn away.

There’s been a cluster of news items this week that point in the same direction: Vermonters are really uncomfortable with racial issues. To wit:

  • Rutland Aldermen split on a resolution condemning the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
  • Barre Council puts divisive flag measure on Town Meeting ballot
  • Business owners of color feel unwelcome in the Chamber of Commerce
  • House Republicans introduce a bill that would prohibit public schools from flying the “Black Lives Matter” flag
  • The Vermont Senate’s first woman of color says Vermont has a retention problem with people of color rather than a recruitment problem.

First, we go to Rutland, a city with a habit of shooting itself in the foot. This week, Aldermen worked themselves into a tizzy — and ultimately held a tie vote — on a measure condemning the events of January 6 and blaming President Trump for triggering the riot. A couple of racist or racist-adjacent Aldermen led the charge against it.

Tom DePoy offered a substitute resolution to condemn the Capitol riot, but also the Black Lives Matter movement. Apparently he thought of this as a way to unify the community. It was voted down by the panel. Paul Clifford, who has a history of racist social media posts, voted against the original resolution. Sam Gerusso courageously walked away from his computer before the vote, saying “I shut off my camera and volume and went and used the restroom, got the mail, checked on my wife.”

He forgot washing his hair and walking the dog.

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Look What I Found in the Ol’ Mailbox

I must infer that the Ethan Allen Institute is hurting for money. How else to explain the fact that an EAI fundraising plea ended up in my mailbox? And yes, it was addressed to me personally, not to “Occupant.”

The hardy-har-har political “cartoon” above was part of the solicitation. It poses the ludicrous proposition that the Black Lives Matter movement, Extinction Rebellion, Antifa and the 1619 Project all spring from the poisoned well of Marxism.

Uh-huh.

BLM and Extinction Rebellion are nonviolent protest movements. “Antifa” is basically a right-wing boogeyman; it’s decidedly not an organization, let alone one capable of overthrowing the global political order. And for God’s sake, the 1619 Project was conducted by the New York Times. Which is, need I remind you, a for-profit corporation.

No Marxists there, except in the fevered imagination of EAI President Rob Roper, who signed this thing.

So let’s take a look at the rest of the thing. The letter begins with a dire warning:

The nation and Vermont are at a tipping point. We have to decide if we are going to maintain the Constitutional freedoms set in place by our founders — the ideas and principles that made us the greatest country in the world — or abandon them for a path toward socialism, speech codes, and McCarthyite blacklisting of citizens who expreess anything other trhan obedience to a single-party agenda.

Referring to the Democratic Party, presumably. Which is hogwash. The party, nationally and in Vermont, is a broad coalition that can barely agree on a common agenda, let alone threaten the overthrow of the American way of life. Nothing the Democrats espouse would pave the way for socialism. Nothing would impose speech codes or a “McCarthyite blacklist.”

Which, need I remind you, was a Republican invention.

I realize you have to grab the reader’s attention with fiery rhetoric, but this is deliberate pandering to the Trump/tea party/Proud Boys wing of the conservative movement.

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Barre’s Flag Fiasco

Oh no, I’m sorry, that’s way too controversial.

The Barre City Council deliberated for months on a proposal to fly the “Black Lives Matter” flag in City Hall Park, a measure first proposed last spring. They finally resolved the matter in a way that only an all-white group of desperate politicians could devise. They decided the BLM flag would fly through the end of December, and that for January it would be replaced by the “Thin Blue Line” banner, a bastardized version of the American flag that’s favored by the pro-police crowd.

Talk about both-sidesing an issue.

The only thing stupider than the final resolution was its original version, which would have seen 22 different flags displayed for one month apiece. That roster included the flags of England, Italy and France, as well as the Star of David, an Autism Acceptance banner and the flag of the Green Mountain Boys.

Talk about 22-sidesing an issue.

That idea was floated by Councilor John Steinman, a very conservative dentist who once ran unsuccessfully for the House. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to why he chose England, Italy and France (white people white people WHITE PEOPLE WHITE PEOPLE!!!!), or why he cast his net so widely, but somehow that proposal was actually adopted by Council at its November 17 meeting — only to be replaced by the two-flag plan the following week, presumably after an outpouring of laughter and derision.

I shouldn’t have to explain why it’s such an affront to tie those two flags together, but let’s give it a shot, shall we?

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Panic on Church Street

The Church Street Marketplace (Not Exactly As Illustrated)

The good merchants of Burlington’s Church Street are up in arms over an alleged plague of loitering and related bad behavior. Or, as several dozen of them described their charming streetscape in a letter to Chittenden County state senators, “public intoxication, open drug use, public urination and defecation, public sex acts, aggressive and harassing behavior, commandeering and blocking public thoroughfares, and sleeping or camping in both private and public spaces.”

Ick. Well, I haven’t been on Church Street since the pandemic hit, but that sounds more like my old stomping grounds in Detroit (pictured above) than the crown jewel of Vermont downtowns.

Anyway, they are asking for tougher state laws on various abuses of the common. And their lament drew a quick and caustic response from the progressive Twitterverse. “Bicycles & Books” wrote, “Throwing more cops at a problem is never the solution.” Josh Lisenby added, “Merchants want to lock up the poor.” Mairead Catherine suggested a boycott of the merchants.

And this from Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George:

But actually, I feel quite a bit of sympathy for the merchants. They’re suffering from two consecutive seasons, with no end in sight, of greatly reduced foot traffic on the Marketplace. If the pandemic continues much longer, which it seems certain to do, it’s very likely that one-third or more of those merchants will be out of business within months. A lot of people would suffer, a lot of workers would lose jobs, and Church Street would be in danger of losing the critical mass of merchants it needs to remain vibrant.

The merchants can’t do anything about Covid-19, so they’re looking for anything else that might help. But no, making criminals of the least among us is not the answer.

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Scott Endorses Conservative Trolling Operation

“Artist’s” rendering of the proposed addition to Montpelier’s State Street.

It’s pretty obvious that John Klar meant to stir up trouble when he proposed the above addition to the “Black Lives Matter” mural on the pavement of State Street in Montpelier.

Klar, who’s challenging Gov. Phil Scott for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, requested last week that the city close the street on Friday, July 3 so the American flag and the legend “”Liberty and Justice for All” could be painted. The city initially denied the request, although City Council will take it up this week.

Fine, take it up. Then swat it down. This is clearly a political stunt aimed at Them Dang Liberals in Montpelier. I mean, really: Surround the “Black Lives Matter” message with obvious symbols of traditional American patriotism? It would diminish the impact of the original mural and muddy the ideological waters of the pavement in front of the Statehouse.

And the governor is… okay with it, according to VTDigger.

“That sounds very patriotic, fitting for the Fourth of July,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t say it’s inconsistent with the Black Lives Matter message. I think they’re almost one and the same.”

Scott, who is quick to cry “politics” whenever a Democrat dares propose something he disagrees with, or when a reporter asks an inconvenient question at one of his Covid briefings, is either being disingenuous or dumb about Klar’s idea.

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Son of Racism Is Bustin’ Out All Over

You think the deadly combo platter of two seemingly needless police killings of black men plus the Dallas killing of police officers by a black man has kinda lanced a boil on America’s psyche? Because everywhere there’s talk of racism — and the denial of same by white folks who are way too defensive about the whole thing.

Last week, I wrote about a bunch of racially-tinged incidents tainting the pure and blessed landscape of Vermont, and now we’ve got some more to share.

Coming up, signs that the authorities in Bennington Still Don’t Get It, even in the face of a potentially expensive lawsuit… and further evidence of cowardice in Vermont’s second city.

But first, the Burlington Free Press reports that some locals have their knickers in a knot because Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum had the audacity to put up some “Black Lives Matter” placards.

The Rokeby is a small museum dedicated, in part, to Vermont’s role in the Underground Railroad. The Robinson family, who lived on the property, were Quaker abolitionists who sheltered runaway slaves. The signs were hung in May to honor “the legacy of the Robinsons as social justice activists.”

In the aftermath of the Dallas shootings, it’s gotten a little tense down Rokeby way.

A young man who came in to ask about the signs, became angry, thinking they supported violence against police and white people — himself included.

One person called and another posted a Facebook message on the museum’s page demanding the signs be taken down… By the end of the day on Friday there were at least five response that left staff feeling vulnerable.

(Note: yes, it’s incorrectly spelled “response” in the Free Press story. No proofreaders need apply.)

Funny, isn’t it, how a single incident of black-on-white violence can shatter the automatic assumption of safety that’s part of White Privilege in America?

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Keith Knight!!!!

Drove down to Dartmouth College today for a talk by one of my favorite comic artists, a guy who ought to be much more well-known than he is: Keith Knight, creator of three (count ‘em — three) syndicated comics. Hardest-working man in the funny papers.

Knight, for those tragically unaware, is a young black man whose work features a rich and dynamic mix of political commentary, true-life narrative, goofball humor, and a visual style that’s bursting with energy.

I first came across his original creation, The K Chronicles, in the comics pages of Seven Days. Unfortunately, a couple years ago the paper revamped its comics and dropped the strip. I don’t know if it was too black or too funny or what, but it was a great loss. Fortunately, you can find his work online and he’s published a half-dozen compilations, some of which are still in print.

The subject of his talk is a sadly recurring theme in his work: police violence against African-Americans. It was entitled “They Shoot Black People, Don’t They?” which is also the title of a published collection of his work on the subject. “I’ve been doing comics about police brutality for 20 years. I’m sick of it.”

A recent example after the jump.

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Bernie and the black vote

Here’s something I don’t write very often: Chuck Todd, NBC’s intellectual manifestation of the Beltway mindset, offered a real insight on the Democratic primary race.

On the night of March 8, during MSNBC’s coverage of the Mississippi and Michigan primaries, he noted that this would be an entirely different campaign if Bernie Sanders were simply holding his own among black voters.

It’s true. It’s damn true, as Kurt Angle would say. The number-one reason Hillary Clinton has a substantial lead among pledged delegates, and in total votes cast, is her overwhelming support from African-Americans. In Southern states, she’s drawing 80 percent or more of the black vote. In Michigan, she drew a “disappointing” 68 percent — still holding a better than two-to-one margin over Sanders.

That’s the single biggest handicap to Bernie’s candidacy. Bigger than the mainstream media coverage or lack thereof; bigger than the superdelegate system; bigger even than the occasional sniping of Your Obedient Servant.

This problem goes back to the very beginning, before the mainstream media even began to underplay Bernie’s chances or “anoint” Hillary. It goes back to sometime before that first confrontation with Black Lives Matter, when a couple of black activists usurped the microphone at a Bernie rally. That event was a symptom of a pre-existing ailment.

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Bernie in the briar patch

Maybe it’s his decades of residence in lily-white Vermont. Maybe it’s his stubborn streak. Maybe it’s the overweening self-regard that inevitably develops in the mind of the successful politician. But Bernie Sanders is having an awful time getting over his “black problem.”

It’s gotten to the point where a possibly innocuous move like visiting Jesse Jackson takes on a “some of my best friends are black” vibe.

“Longtime friends, the senator and the civil rights leader held a very productive, hour-long meeting on important issues confronting the country and the African American community,” spokesman Michael Briggs wrote in the statement.

Err, Mike. Don’t try too hard with the “longtime friends” stuff.

Bernie ought to be the candidate of racial justice as well as the economic variety. But he can’t quite seem to find his footing after twice being challenged by “Black Lives Matter” protesters. The latest gaffe came Sunday on “Meet The Press”:

CHUCK TODD: Buzzfeed has an article out this morning. Headline is this: “Sanders Campaign Reaches Out to Black Lives Matter Activists.” Quote, “I apologize it took our campaign so long.” Tell me more about it.

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, that was sent out by a staffer, not by me. Look, we are reaching out to all kinds of groups, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD: I understand that but, you said a staffer put it out, but you felt an apology was necessary?

BERNIE SANDERS: No, I don’t. I think we’re going to be working with all groups. This was sent out without my knowledge.

Well, that’s just great.

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