Letter to the editor: Charging alleged shooter as adult ‘unfathomable’

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Madden Gouveia. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to lose a child, and to lose a child in a shooting, here in Bristol — it is all unfathomable. I join many others here in Bristol, holding Madden’s family and friends in our hearts and prayers.

I am concerned, too, that as a community we are about to head down a path that only compounds this tragedy. Hussein Mohamed is also 14 — a child — and I find the thought of him being tried as an adult very disturbing. From our years in middle school until reaching adulthood, human brains have a long way to go to fully develop. (Thank goodness! And more power to anyone reading this who works with or is raising a kid in Middle School!) I am glad I live in a society that generally recognizes that kids and adults need to be treated differently in the eyes of the law. But wait — here in Addison County, we are looking to make an exception? This doesn’t make sense to me. 

I can’t help but wonder whether racism plays a part, and whether if it had been a white kid shooting a Black kid we would be so quick to charge that white kid as an adult. In the U.S., Black teens are disproportionately tried in adult court. This is a chance to do better here at home in Addison County.

Trying Hussein as an adult will not bring Madden back or make Vermont safer. I just don’t see any good that can come of it. I love my Bristol and Addison County community, and I don’t want to see this community treat a 14-year-old as the equivalent of a fully developed adult in court. We injure ourselves to do this. May our pursuit of justice be paired with wisdom, understanding, and healing.

Anya Schwartz


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