To the Editor:
I am Gwenyth Irwin, a student at Shelburne Community School. I am writing this letter because it is important to me that everyone gets the same human rights no matter what color their skin is. I have decided to advocate for racial justice because of stories I have heard on the news and a commercial I keep seeing about a girl who got kicked out of school because of the way she wears her hair and that she could not come back until she changed it and that really rubbed me the wrong way. People of color face these kinds of prejudices every day, and we must work together to change that.
According to The New York Times article “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History”, on June 6, half a million people gathered in about 550 locations across the country to peacefully protest. This is important because this means that this is an issue that a lot of other people care about and a lot of them are white. I am proud to live in a town that has Black Lives Matter signs on lawns, and that my school flies a Black Lives Matter flag. I hope that this is common at other schools too. I found this quote said by Chief Noble in a letter by Kim Schmit, “Knowing that you can do better is how you get to be better, you have to start with a good person, you can train them to be a cop, but you can’t always train a cop to be a good person. We want to make sure that everyone on our force is someone that represents what we stand for and we will do everything we can to maintain a force that this town can be proud of.” I am so proud that in our town one of the most important parts of being a police officer is being a good person.
I also read an article by Chief Aaron Noble that quoted Chief Merkel, “On behalf of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and the Vermont Police Association, I express both outrage and sadness surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. The actions of one maligned officer with his unwarranted use of force and complete disregard of human life, as well as the inaction of other witnessing officers to intercede and protect, has left the law enforcement community of Vermont stunned and outraged.” It was really powerful to hear that he believed that George Floyd’s death was a complete disregard for human life. I hope that one of the first things that the Biden administration does is to make sure that police departments are protecting their communities and not using excessive force against people.
According to the Washington Post, Black Lives Matter leaders have a proposal for federal action that they call the Breathe Act. The proposal includes elements that I believe our new President should advocate for, that I believe are important. They include additional money for schools, universal basic incomes, and police reforms. I know that it can feel hard to help from our small town of Shelburne, but we can still make a difference.