We would never sign that anonymous letter

PUTNEY — I admit, the presence of the many street people in Brattleboro can be very disturbing to some. I understand that extreme poverty, severe mental illness, and opioid-use disease are not pretty, not easy to witness.

However, there are different ways of dealing with this problem, and printing an anonymous letter from business owners who are afraid to use their own names is not a helpful or productive way to approach a national crisis.

Brattleboro is a tiny part of the massive disaster of homelessness and economic insecurity. The United States is the richest country in the history of the world, and yet we have no cohesive mental-health-care system, a huge gap between effective opioid rehab clinics and those who need them, and a federal government that has built no housing for the poor since the Reagan administration.

It is time for all of us who are concerned to speak up and create a movement to change the spending priorities of the federal government. We have the money to fix our problems. The country just spent more than $100 million just to send Trump's entire family on a spare-no-expense state visit to England. We have the money for housing, feeding, and treating those who are in desperate need.

Those of us who work at Everyone's Books try to be humane and civil with those who live on or near the street. We would never sign an anonymous letter pushing questionable information about the poorest and sickest residents of our community.

Because nobody knows who signed this letter, those who are not too familiar with the personalities downtown might think that some of us who have a very different perspective on panhandling might have been part of this endeavor.

So I strongly state that printing this letter with no names was just wrong and unfair to many of us downtown who have a very different idea about our town's needs and how we can meet them.

I understand the need for anonymity in a situation where danger is involved: a response to a violent white supremacist, for example. I hope The Commons will think long and hard before giving this sort of letter space again.

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