by Kolby Lamarche
This is going to be a bit longer than usual, so strap in. This past Monday’s Burlington City Council meeting was nightmarish.
Last week, in researching for my piece Burlington’s Tax Odyssey, I caught wind that allies of Tyestia Green would be organizing to steadfastly support her before the Burlington City Council. But I didn’t think it would go like this.
I want to preface this by saying that I have thoroughly reviewed the recorded meeting and pored over agenda documents, I do consider there to be some valid arguments in the defense of Green. However, there was one thing that significantly perturbed me.
Todd Lacroix, a Burlington resident and frequent speaker at public forums, added his 2 cents that night.
Lacroix initiated his speech by addressing the presence of hypocrisy in both Miro and Green. He proceeded to share his personal encounter with white and black supremacy, which originated – he claims – from a messy divorce with his black ex-wife. While Lacroix’s words might not hold substantial significance, it was the ensuing reaction to his speech that made my jaw drop.
Rachel Siegel, former Burlington city councilor and recently the manager of Councilor Melo Grant’s campaign, has a skewed sense of reality.
On her Facebook and Instagram, Siegel partakes in ‘self-love equity experiences’. These entail posting videos of her twerking. And for each like that she receives, Siegel has pledged to donate $1.00 to Bami Kuteyi, founder of TwerkAfterWork.
But when she isn’t twerking for likes, Siegel is stamping out free speech.
Amidst Lacroix’s speech, Siegel reached her limit. She strode up to Lacroix, forcefully seizing and contorting the microphone, effectively muting him. In a bold stance, Siegel stood clutching the microphone, directing her vociferous outburst at Council President Karen Paul. The room, predominantly occupied by Green supporters, descended into chaos.
Just before Siegel snatched the microphone from Lacroix, Paul can be heard saying “You need to stop”. When Siegel took hold of the mic, Paul said “yeah” in an approving tone.
Lacroix faced a growing crowd of Green supporters who, circling around him, screamed at him, telling him he needed to leave. Before exiting, Lacroix responded to the crowd, “Black, white, you are all terrorists.”
Paul, instead of protecting Lacroix, waltzed over to Ferene Paris Meyer, who sat next to Green throughout the meeting, to console her.
Moments later, Meyer interjected, bringing the proceedings to a halt. She dominated the floor for many minutes, being interrupted only by Paul occasionally saying her name. Meyer approached Weinberger and rebuked him while he sat uncomfortably, fidgeting with his legs and bouncing from a smile to a poker face. It marked the council’s initial recess in a series of three
As the leftists now say, let’s be clear. Before Siegel’s intervention, Lacroix did not use any foul language; he did not promote or entice violence. He was exercising his right. And Siegel, literally, took it from him.
This behavior isn’t normal. And this wasn’t a display of democracy, the thing they profess to care deeply for. This was authoritarian suppression. And no one stopped it.
Not one lawyer, of the many present, dared to challenge the infringement. They sat, silent, afraid of any engagement.
Paul epitomizes the quintessential neoliberal persona, often donning fur boots while outwardly advocating for progress. Beneath this façade of fashionable progressiveness, however, Paul’s leadership reveals its fragility.
While she espouses that restoring civility and decorum is paramount to her as council president, she has failed to achieve that goal of maintaining order at any meeting where the public has been challenging and disruptive.
It’s crucial to bear in mind that the attendees supporting Green at the meeting represent only a fraction of Burlington. Despite their limited numbers, they undeniably wield political influence, a clout that appears substantial enough to deter Paul from fulfilling her obligations as the council president to maintain order.
Our only recourse lies in the anticipation that an individual who genuinely values progress, possesses a strong commitment to civility and order, and is dedicated to safeguarding the pillars of free speech and open discourse will emerge to rescue us from this burning sky.
Burning Sky is dedicated to providing critique and commentary on the issues of the day from an unapologetic perspective, fueling change in the heart of Vermont. Authored by Kolby LaMarche every Saturday.