Peace and harmony of the Burlington Occupy were disrupted on the evening of November 9th, 2011. Just near where I was standing that same evening, a man shot and killed himself.
The front man for the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello is from Vermont. Eugene Hutz now lives in the city, but grew up in Burlington. The native Ukrainian and his family first moved to the state in the early 1990s.
The Burlington Free Press reported on Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz description of growing up in Vermont:
Hutz realizes years later that Vermont and the gypsy culture of Eastern Europe had something in common that helped him adjust. He said the “hippie” vibe of Vermont matches the “communal element” he knew back home, and that culture helped spur an active music scene in and around Burlington.
The Burlington Free Press reported on the scene, Thursday:
“Just a day after the joyful spontaneity of a Gogol Bordello performance Wednesday night at City Hall Park, Thursday’s shooting that police believe may have been self-inflicted spiraled into a tense confrontation between Burlington police and some protesters over access to the park. “The evening culminated in this surreal scene nearly five hours after the shooting: Mayor Bob Kiss, standing hatless and coatless in a cold rain, talking a group of close to 100 City Hall Park occupiers down from a near riot.”
Vermont Public Radio reports on what Police Chief Michael Schirling had to say:
“The overwhelming majority of people in this movement are peaceful and they’ve have tried very hard with the city to achieve balance and to ensure that they’re doing their best to create a safe environment. It’s clear that it’s not completely possible to do that, we believe, with the existence of tents. And simultaneously we saw last night for the first time a few people who, we believe, were trying to incite altercations, incite the crowd to do things or to provoke a response from law enforcement.”
The decision comes a day after a man described as “transient” by police shot himself in the head inside one of the tents. After last week’s musical tribute, the gathering settled back into a semblance of it’s former peaceful quiet evening before being ejected from the park.
Living history keeps us alive only if we remember it. From the insight of Eastern European Gypsy musicians to student protests, death of veterans and the arrest of our own citizens, we must keep the Ministry of Truth out of our collective consciousness.
“Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.” – George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 2