This is what the Rutland Herald had to say about a rise in crime a violence throughout Vermont in the past week:
There are some weeks where even we are feeling concerned about the news cycle. When it comes to crime, the last week has seemed unique. And while we can’t touch on all of the incidents, suffice it to say that veteran journalists who keep tabs on crime stories are befuddled by the range of the rage.
By our count, over the last week alone (since Oct. 4), Vermont State Police have made a dozen arrests for domestic violence or aggravated assaults (including several involving deadly weapons). One of the cases was a stabbing, allegedly between family members.
On Sunday evening, Colchester Police received a report of an armed robbery by crossbow at the intersection of Route 15 and Barnes Avenue. Within minutes, several other crimes were committed, and a chase occurred involving Ben. J. Webb, of Middlebury, that resulted in damage to two Colchester Police cruisers, ramming of an Essex Police cruiser and injuries to two Essex officers. The vehicle Webb was operating was reportedly taken without permission. Webb, too, faces multiple aggravated assault charges, as well as two charges of robbery.
And then there was an incident that started in Duxbury.
Troopers say John Grayson Eckroth, 29, of Granville, was driving erratically, illegally passing and tailgating cars, blocking traffic, and nearly caused several accidents on Route 100 on Friday afternoon.
Police say Eckroth followed Larry Runk for 30 miles from Duxbury to Runk’s home in Hancock and drove by the house several times, honking his horn.
Police say Runk retrieved a shotgun and fired bird shot, hitting Eckroth’s vehicle and shattering the back passenger door window. No one was injured. But both men were cited.
Runk was issued a citation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment.
Eckroth was charged with negligent operation, disorderly conduct and giving false information to police.
You don’t have to read it here to realize road rage incidents are feeling commonplace. It is disconcerting to see so many incidents of aggression from behind the wheel of a vehicle.
According to the state’s website, “A reduction in incidents of road rage and aggressive driving is an important mission of the Vermont DMV. The preventable individual driving behaviors and decisions made by aggressive drivers can lead to loss of life and life-threatening injuries to our friends, family, and children. Our goal is to change these behaviors and outcomes through enforcement, education, and assistance.”
Law enforcement has been working hard to follow up on road rage incidents, and educating the public about the shift we are all seeing. “Society is moving at a faster pace now more than ever. It is possible the increased value of time is causing us to be much more aggressive on the road, especially during commuting hours,” the state website states. “Some drivers only see the traffic ahead of them as an obstacle to overcome at any cost. When we couple this with society’s becoming accustomed to instantaneous communications, the problem becomes more pronounced. Whatever the reasons may be, this attitude can place those who share the roadway in jeopardy.”
But here is an irony.
What dominated the news cycle on Monday morning was an act of vandalism that appears to be linked to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday.
On Sunday, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Bennington Police were dispatched to the Bennington Museum on Main Street for a report of a vandalism that had occurred overnight. A large banner had been placed between two light poles at the museum’s entrance stating “Land Back.” In addition, a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the museum courtyard had been sprayed with red paint on the statue’s face and hands and at the center of the statue’s chest was the number 38.
According to Bennington Police, the vandalism is allegedly in reference to the Dakota 38, when 38 Dakota men were hanged under the order of President Abraham Lincoln. The hangings and convictions of the Dakota 38 resulted from the aftermath of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 in southwest Minnesota. This incident remains under investigation.
The vandalism is troubling, of course. And the messaging seems driven by principle, and certainly deserved news coverage.
Sometimes, we, too, are eager to splash the condemnation of such moments across the top of a news page.
But on this day, we remind you that over the last week, which included Indigenous Peoples’ Day, there were significant incidents of domestic violence, rage between stranger, and situations where any one of us could have been harmed or killed.
News requires perspective. The lessons are everywhere.