With respect to the story of May 6, "Human Trafficking and Prostitution in Bennington," I have learned that there were, for some time, quite a few rumors around town regarding this and other alleged criminal activities -- yet few stepped forward to speak. I understand the thinking that no one wants to make trouble or make assumptions about our neighbors and that there is some risk in getting involved. There is always the risk that we may unjustly hurt someone that we don't know and make a remark that would injure. In short, Vermonters tend to mind their own business and that's worked out pretty well for a long, long time. Vermonters have been schooled in the tradition of the "presumption of innocence" but it should not keep us from noticing when things are not quite right.
I am casting no presumption of guilt on anyone with respect torecent stories in the Banner, but I am suggesting, if you see something that makes you feel uneasy, you are welcome to come and see me or go to some other trusted person or town official and tell them that something may not be the way that it should be. I promise to keep your information confidential, and I promise you the information you give me will reach the people that need to know.
Coming forward is never an easy thing when we suspect something might not be quite right, but the hindsight thoughts that haunt the conscience... So, it's up to each of us to say, "NO MORE OF THIS!" It's up to each of us to act within the law and not be vigilantes, but to be vigilant and look after one-another. It's up to each us to protect the hometown we know and to protect the place where we share the responsibilities of raising families and where we look after the ones we love.
Collectively, the message to the people that have come to our town to pollute it with drugs and crime should be, "Time to get gone! You're not welcome here and we will show you the door."
Finally, to those who would vandalize the work we have done to make this town a better place I say, "If you choose to stay in the town we're working to make better, we have ‘three hots and a cot' waiting for you behind some very secure bars. Here's your hat! What's your hurry?"
This is not the town my family has known for generations where even the theoretical possibility of such things could not be contemplated.
I like to think that we Benningtonians, both natives and newcomers, walk arm-in-arm, knowing that we want only the best for our town, the best for each other, the best for our children and the best for the people we love and care for. Speaking up takes some guts and courage, but we're Vermonters and guts and courage have never been something that any of us lacked.
Enough is enough.