Letter: Countering BLM mural would further repression

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To the Editor:

[Mike] Bethel claims that he thinks that the town should have considered all people's representation in his defense of two murals to "balance" one Black Lives Matter mural. But where was his concern when the two-term democratically elected Vermont representative Kiah Morris was being stalked openly by a known culprit, who instead of being prevented, was instead enabled and shielded by the Bennington Police Department to lead the harassment of her person, her family, her home, her public charge? Where was his concern when Black and brown people were denied their civil rights in racial profiling cases, winning their suit in court by proving discrimination, and where is his concern that the Bennington Police Department has been exposed by state-mandated investigations by multiple national agencies, including the Association of Police Superintendents, as engaging in systemic racism, a culture of intimidation and biased policing?

In other words, what is the status of Black and brown people in his claim that all lives matter, and that blue lives matter? Because that is the impetus of the BLM mural — in itself, It is an assertion of representation, and of balancing a scale that has been tipped against Black and brown peoples since the colonization of these lands.

In his estimate, Bethel is ultimately correct, for one Black Lives Matter mural hardly balances 500 years of genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, police brutality, mass incarceration, disenfranchisement, redlining, cultural appropriation, economic apartheid, schools-to-prison pipelines, and the barrage of micro-aggressions daily suffered by the victims of historic and ongoing oppression on Vermont and across the country. Indeed, for representation to be balanced, we need Black and brown people in positions of power, measurable equity in societal structures, and restorative justice.

As important a demonstration as the BLM mural is, it is precisely to bring the issue of representation and balance into public view, not an end in itself in the process of achieving equality. If the town allows these counter murals under the pretense of equal representation, it further incriminates itself in a culture of repression against Black and brown peoples in the community.

Nina Marks.

Williamstown, Mass.

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