MLK called for a revolution to abolish racism, poverty, and militarism
Vermont's F-35 training flights are state-sponsored racism and militarism and drive poverty and climate catastrophe.
In a 1967 speech, called “Beyond Vietnam,” Martin Luther King identified the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and called for a revolution to abolish racism, poverty, and militarism.
Yet, 54 years later, in Burlington, cop violence disproportionately targets working class and black and brown populations. The police union contract, signed by the mayor, effectively granted cops impunity from meaningful discipline while the states attorney and the attorney general routinely grant them impunity from criminal charges.
In Vermont, the judicial system is stacked heavily toward cops. For example, under the supervision by five Vermont Supreme Court justices, a Vermont attorney in northern Vermont could vote only from a list of prosecutors vying for seats on the Board that nominates Vermont judges. No choice of even one criminal defense or civil liberties attorney. Yet prosecutors have a conflict of interest in police misconduct cases because of their close association with and routine reliance on police to gather evidence.
Also in Vermont, state-sponsored militarism and racism: Hundreds of F-35 training flights each month target working class and black and brown parts of Winooski, Burlington, S. Burlington, and Williston with 115 decibel F-35 noise. While all the tony neighborhoods are far outside the high-noise zone. Thousands of families in these densely populated Vermont cities suffer while law of war rules in Department of Defense Directives and Air Force Instructions and Doctrine are intentionally neglected. As are US and Vermont criminal laws, US and Vermont Constitutional rights, and international law.
The F-35 training flights in a city are for practice making war against poor people of color in oil-rich countries. Was that why the Burlington airport in the Chamberlin School neighborhood of S. Burlington was chosen? The runway is amidst a working class neighborhood of 1000 affordable homes and aims at the center of Winooski, one mile away. The military gets to practice the racist violence–what the Air Force calls “disproportionate impact” on low income and minority populations. The F-35 training flights are environmental racism and class prejudice on steroids.
The Air Force said that the extreme noise of the F-35 make 3,000 affordable homes in Winooski, Burlington, Williston, and in the Chamberlin School neighborhood of S. Burlington uninhabitable. With noise so loud it can permanently damage hearing and impair learning and cognitive development.
Training with military jets in a city hurts children and the elderly, unjustly impacts black and brown and working class neighborhoods, pours massive amounts of CO2 into the air, and prepares our soldiers and airmen to kill and be killed in more wars of aggression based on lies, all for the profits of military contractors.
Not just the thousands of Vermont families suffering. Our Vermont airmen are flagrantly abused to serve the military-industrial complex. The best way to support the Vermont Guard is to call for an immediate halt in F-35 training flights in any populated area, and, instead, to demand training for Guard members to save lives from the airborne threat that has so far killed 400,000 Americans: COVID-19.
While the federal government brought the F-35 to Vermont, under the US Constitution, the training of all state national guards is under the authority of state governments. That means the governor and the legislature have authority to halt the F-35 training amidst Vermont cities, to ground the F-35 jets, and, instead, to order the Guard to train to fight the COVID pandemic, global warming, poverty, and systemic racism.
But the Commander in Chief, Governor Phil Scott, made the imperial war machine his first priority. With the full support of the legislative leadership, and even the acceptance of the medical doctor who heads the Department of Health. All of them granted impunity by the states attorney and the attorney general.
Each F-35 burns 1500 gallons an hour. It cannot protect us from climate change, hurricanes, and new pandemics that climate change will bring. The F-35 is climate change and pandemics on steroids.
The F-35 cannot protect from racism. Or from killer cops. Or from a failed criminal justice system. The F-35 is for use in racist wars of aggression against black and brown people in oil-rich developing countries. The F-35 is racism on steroids.
The F-35 cannot protect from corrupt Vermont politicians obsequiously serving the military industrial complex: Leahy, Sanders, Welch, Weinberger, Shumlin, and Scott. The basing in a city resulting from pressure by Leahy, the most senior of all senators, with lockstep support from the others. F-35 training flights in a city is corruption on steroids.
The F-35 cannot protect from income inequality, job loss, or eviction. The F-35 takes $1.4 trillion from jobs, infrastructure, health, education, and affordable housing. The F-35 is impoverishment on steroids.
The F-35 does not fight the billionaire class. Or the fossil fuel industry. Or white nationalists. It does not drive money out of politics. Or abolish tuition or student debt.
The F-35 cannot protect women, African Americans, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ, or veterans.
The chief victims of the wars of aggression based on lies have included no capitalists, no bankers, and no developers.
Why would it not be fair to conclude that those who daily commit racist violence with F-35 jets against thousands of working class and black and brown Vermont families to serve militarism and racism and to prepare for wars against black and brown people in developing countries are violent extremists, racists, and militarists, just as much as any Alabama sheriff who used attack dogs for such assaults in the 1960s?
For all these reasons we need the revolution MLK called for right here in Vermont. To stop the training of our Vermont soldiers and airmen for wars for oil, based on lies, against black and brown people in other countries. And to bring all our soldiers home—and keep them safe here in Vermont. And to redirect our Vermont Air National Guard from training for wars for oil to training for protecting our families from COVID-19, which after all is an airborne virus.
To honor Dr. King Vermonters demand more than annual appearance at Martin Luther King commemorations by Vermont political and military leaders. We demand abolition of Vermont collaboration with the war machine, a halt to all F-35 training flights, mobilization of the entire Vermont National Guard to fight COVID-19, prosecution and incarceration of violent cops and corrupt politicians, and decisive action to abolish Vermont’s state-sponsored racism, poverty, and militarism.
This article, first published at 7:00 am, was updated at 10:24 am on January 18