Co-op Killing Anniversary

Co-op Killing Anniversary

Photo: i Brattleboro, C. Grotke

That’s a disturbing title, I know; and I hate to bring it up, but I know it’s there inside all of us, waiting to be expressed.

Anniversaries are like that. They come whether we want them to or not. Especially first anniversaries. Especially when a loved one is lost.

August 9 is the day that Richard brought a gun to work

How apropos that the old Co-op is being demolished as this anniversary approaches. What if we each threw something into the wreckage that we no longer wanted: guns, unresolved anger, bitterness?

I wonder how the Co-op will mark the anniversary? I know it will be a day full of anguish for the family of Michael Martin. I know that the days leading up to the anniversary will be particularly hard. I can already feel it in my own body.

What about Richard? What will his body relive of that day? What choices might he wish differently?

Would he do it all over again?

Would he get “help”?

What about the rest of us?

If you haven’t experienced the anniversary of a deep loss, then know that it takes its toll. Drink lots of water. Get a massage. Talk to a friend. Plant something beautiful–in the ground, in your life, in a relationship. Breath.



With love,


Even the Potatoes Are Sad



Stripped of the shock and horror that clouded my thoughts for days, I wake to the naked truth that a murder has taken place. That a man’s life has been stolen. That a family has been forced to bear not only a devastating loss, but a violent one.

I’ve lost loved ones to tragedy, but never to murder. The compassion I felt for Richard turns toward anger.  For his desecration of life and community and the cooperative. Truly there has been infinite beauty in the collective response to this tragedy, but there is no escaping the ugliness of it.

My anger quickly melts back into grief however as I view the Richard’s arraignment.  I hold my breath while the camera focuses in on the door from which he will enter the courtroom.  When he appears, I turn my head away, unable to bear his transformation from the wine guy to the criminal.

When Richard finally does make his way through that door, my hand flies to my mouth. It’s not just the grey sweatsuit that is two sizes too big, or even his hair, typically worn neat, that is now wildly disheveled, as if he spent his first night in jail ripping through it. What truly breaks my heart and brings me to tears is both his frame–bent and shuffling–and his face–ashen and lost.

He looks up and into the courtroom for just a moment, and his bottom lip droops as if he is about to crumble into tears.

And now I am angry at all of us. How could we have prevented this man from this self-inflicted hell? How could we have spared these families the loss of their loved ones?

Relieved to be 300 miles away, I share this new wave of grief with my friends at the shore; and I am surprised by what I see in their faces.  It is a mixture shock and compassion and fear.  Only the fear is not of someone like Richard, but of themselves. Fear that they too have a murderer inside. Fear that they might someday be stripped of their senses by rage.


Kelly Salasin, August 13, 2011

This is post #4 on the Brattleboro Food Co-op tragedy, click here to read the others.