It’s okay to be overwhelmed


Overwhelming threats of violence and personal safety makes it hard to want to leave the house, right? As a young adult, I dread what will happen day to day, especially since violence and drug addiction are on the rise in Vermont and all over the U.S.

Just last week Burlington City Police evacuated Church Street to investigate a suspicious bag that was thrown in the bushes by city hall. “They say a person with mental health issues was responsible for placing the suitcase there” (WCAX News).

My company sends me to Church Street almost weekly, and I am scheduled to work in South Burlington next week. Should I be alarmed? It is hard to predict the future or prep yourself for a dangerous event.
The news is rampant with coverage of the newest race riots in Charlotte, which again show what we know to be too true: an African American that appears to not have any weapons and is cooperating, gets shot and killed. His wife, Rakeyia Scott, even took a cell phone video where she is telling the police officers to not shoot and that he is unarmed, and suffers from an Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI.

Meanwhile, the University of Vermont faces a crisis with its efforts in trying to promote their support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. This post and movement from the school went viral with 14,000 shares by famous social justice advocates, writers, and the like. The Washington Post did a full length coverage, until the flag abruptly went missing. Where is the justice in this?

There was a large amount of backlash of course. Republicans and Democracy In Motion, a Twitter account, stated it was “un-American” and that it is a matter of hypocrisy: “Imagine the out-cry if they were to raise a rebel flag,” they said. After the first weekend, the flag was stolen and UVM is still investigating the claims.

This movement on the campus was triggered by the protests and shootings in Charlotte, North Carolina, and of course around the U.S in Dallas, New York, Louisiana, and other states. The removal of the flag is further proving that the BLM movement is a response to hate, and isn’t getting necessary support.

I have been inundated by media reports on the Charlotte riots: a white man dragged through a fire, a police officer suffering a head injury from a brick, a journalist being killed, and so on. How do we fix this? Bernie Sanders released a statement condemming North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for declaring a state of emergency, saying it would only fuel the fire. To me, it seems we are only repeating ourselves from Ferguson.

If you Google Ferguson, MO. an interesting mix of things pop up. They are getting a new Starbucks, although the company is wary, Ferguson activist Darren Seals found dead in burning car, and Ferguson gets sued and swears in new police chief. None of the articles have anything positive to say or lead us in a positive direction. It gives me no hope for Charlotte. How many more cities must be destroyed before we pay attention to race relations and police brutality?

If one were to look up Vermont news you would see the opposite side of the violence: drug addiction, specifically, with opiates.

On Friday Sept. 2, Jessica Cantwell, 20, of Morrisville, overdosed in Price Chopper after shooting up in her car. Also in the car were her supplier and a four-year old child. Cantwell has previous charges from last spring for rear-ending a car in Stowe while on heroin.

I have talked to Jessica Cantwell, and she has been reluctant to talk to me, but, can you blame her? She swears she is sober and going to “the clinic” daily.

She posted a plea on Facebook yesterday: “It’s ridiculous how bad people judge one another so fast. You are not better of a person no matter who you are to tell someone they should have died. People cope with their life or problems differently. Drugs were not the right choice; yes, and being sober I realize that now but if you don’t know anything about addiction or have ever been addicted you have no right to put them down…Reading an article doesn’t define them as a person.”

Other recent headlines include stories of other locals: Thomas Zapantis, 34, of Johnson arrested once police found twenty new and used needles and new batches of Heroin called “Donald Trump”, “Blackout”, and “Merry X Mas,” according to Tommy Gardner of the Stowe Reporter.

Similar cases of this have arrived throughout Vermont, with many deaths and arrests occurring. But what is being done? It would be helpful, soothing even, if someone were to investigate that. Peter Shumlin, Vermont governor, said in his State of the Address that opiate addiction has risen 250 percent. With drug addiction, comes a rise in domestic violence, trafficking, and people being arrested.

Recently, policies endorsed by Shumlin are granting those who get caught with illegal drugs to access treatment rather than just go to jail. However there is only one clinic in Vermont with at least a 300 patient wait list.

Addiction, violence, race….it is all daunting. Reading news headline after headline that is morbid taxes the mind and body. As a writer, I try to focus on arts and entertainment because I try to push real and legitimate violence to the back of my mind to physically get through my day. As I get older, and I witness these realities and the presidential election I am reminded that I have a voice and a deep desire to see sustainable change. The time is now folks, we need to be creating the cause for change. REAL change that can protect us and our communities.