H492 Calls for Racial Justice Oversight Board

The Racial Justice Reform Bill was released late this afternoon.  The bill states that “The Board shall conduct management and oversight of the implementation of racial justice reform across the State, including within the criminal justice system, by managing and overseeing the collection of race- based data, ensuring such data are publicly available, and developing policies and trainings to address systemic implicit bias.”

We’ll be keeping you posted on the coalition site  and the Facebook page.

Here is a petition that we created that maps directly to the bill.

The Bill

BILL AS INTRODUCED H.492

Introduced by Representatives Morris of Bennington, Christie of Hartford, and Gonzalez of Winooski

Subject: Law enforcement; fair and impartial policing; Racial Justice Oversight Board

Statement of purpose of bill as introduced: This bill proposes to establish the  Racial Justice Oversight Board to manage and oversee the implementation of racial justice reform across the State.

An act relating to the Racial Justice Oversight Board

Sec. 1. 3 V.S.A. § 168 is added to read:

§ 168. RACIAL JUSTICE OVERSIGHT BOARD  

(a) The Racial Justice Oversight Board is established. The Board shall be 16 organized and have the duties and responsibilities as provided in this section. 17 The Board shall be organized within the Office of the Attorney General, and 18 members of the Board shall be drawn from throughout the State and from 19 diverse racial, ethnic, religious, age, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and shall have had experience working to implement racial 2 justice reform.

(b) The Board shall comprise the following 12 members: (1) four members to represent the interests of communities of color throughout the State, appointed by the Attorney General; (2) the Executive Director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council or designee; (3) the Attorney General or designee; (4) the Defender General or designee; (5) the Executive Director of the State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs or 11 designee; (6) the Chief Administrative Judge or designee; (7) the Commissioner of Corrections or designee; (8) the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee; and (9) the Executive Director of the Vermont chapter of the ACLU or designee.

(c) The terms of members shall be four years. As terms of currently serving members expire, appointments of successors shall be in accord with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section. Appointments of members to fill vacancies or expired terms shall be made by the authority that made the initial appointment to the vacated or expired term. Members of the Board shall 2 be eligible for reappointment.

(d) Members of the Board shall elect biennially by majority vote the Chair of the Board. Members of the Board shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be entitled to reimbursement for expenses in the manner and amount provided to employees of the State.

(e) Seven members shall constitute a quorum of the Board. Once a quorum has been established, the vote of a majority of the members present at the time of the vote shall be an act of the Board.

(f) The Board shall conduct management and oversight of the implementation of racial justice reform across the State, including within the criminal justice system, by managing and overseeing the collection of race- based data, ensuring such data are publicly available, and developing policies and trainings to address systemic implicit bias. In furtherance of that responsibility, the Board shall have the authority to:

(1) ensure law enforcement compliance with the requirements of 20 V.S.A. § 2366
(2) continually review the data collected pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 2366 to measure State progress toward a fair and impartial system of law enforcement;
(3) provide recommendations to the Criminal Justice Training Council and the Vermont Bar Association,based on the latest social science research and best practices in law enforcement and criminal justice, on a model training and policy for law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and correctional officers to recognize and address implicit bias, and conduct oversight of the statewide adoption and implementation of such policies and trainings;
(4) provide recommendations to the Criminal Justice Training Council, based on the latest social science research and best practices in law enforcement, on a model training and policy on the use of force in policing;
(5) in collaboration with the Criminal Justice Training Council:
(A) oversee the incorporation of implicit bias training into the requirements of basic training pursuant to 20 V.S.A. § 2358; and
(B) oversee the implementation of the refresher trainings as required by 20 V.S.A. § 2358(e);
(6) educate and inform businesses, educational institutions, State and local governments, and the general public about the nature and scope of racial discrimination and the systemic and institutionalized nature of race-based bias
(7) advise and consult with the Executive and Legislative Branches of State government on the assessment of racial impact of policies and legislation; and
(8) on or before January 15, 2018, and annually thereafter, report to the General Assembly, and provide as a part of that report recommendations on:
(A) methods of oversight and professional regulation of the criminal justice system, including a statewide program for civilian oversight of law enforcement;
(B) processes and methodologies to achieve an independent prosecutorial body for investigating and prosecuting law enforcement misconduct;
(C) instituting a public complaint process to address misconduct in the criminal justice system;
(D) expanding jurisdiction of the Board to address institutionalized racism in education, health services access, employment, and housing policy;
(E) prohibiting racial profiling, including any associated penalties;
(F) requiring law enforcement to expand its race data collection practices to include data on law enforcement stops based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause and law enforcement use of force during interactions with civilians; and
(G) amending the Vermont Constitution to clarify that slavery in any form is prohibited.

g) No part of any funds appropriated to the Board by the General Assembly shall, in the absence of express authorization by the General Assembly, be used directly or indirectly for legislative or administrative advocacy. The Board shall review and amend as necessary all existing contracts and grants to ensure compliance with this subsection. As used in this subsection, legislative or administrative advocacy means employment of a lobbyist as defined in 2 V.S.A. chapter 11, or employment of, or establishment of, or maintenance of, a lobbyist position whose primary function is to influence legislators or State officials with respect to pending legislation or regulations.

Sec. 2. 20 V.S.A. § 2358(e) is amended to read:

(1) The criteria for all minimum training standards under this section shall include anti-bias, appropriate use of force, and deescalation training approved by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council and training on the State, county, or municipal law enforcement agency’s fair and impartial policing policy, adopted pursuant to subsection 2366(a) of this title.
(2) On or before December 31, 2018, law enforcement officers shall receive a minimum of four hours of training as required by this subsection.
(3) In order to remain certified, law enforcement officers shall receive a refresher course on the training required by this subsection during every odd- numbered year in a program approved by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council.
(4) All training completed by law enforcement officers shall be reported to the Criminal Justice Training Council and the Racial Justice Oversight Board on or before April 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, and shall be made publicly available.

Sec. 4. 20 V.S.A. § 2366 is amended to read:

4 § 2366. LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES; FAIR AND IMPARTIAL 5 POLICING POLICY; RACE DATA COLLECTION

(a)

(1) On or before January 1, 2016, the Criminal Justice Training Council, in consultation with stakeholders, including the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and Migrant Justice, shall create a model fair and impartial policing policy. On or before July 1, 2016, every State, local, county, and municipal law enforcement agency and every constable who exercises law enforcement authority pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 1936a and who is trained in compliance with section 2358 of this title shall adopt a fair and impartial policing policy that includes, at a minimum, the elements of the Criminal Justice Training Council model fair and impartial policing policy in its entirety.

(2) On or before July 1, 2017 and annually thereafter, the Criminal Justice Training Council, in consultation with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Human Rights Commission, the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, Migrant Justice, Justice for All, the Racial Justice Oversight Board, and law enforcement shall review and update the model fair and impartial policing policy.

(b) If a law enforcement agency or constable that is required to adopt a policy pursuant to subsection (a) of this section fails to do so on or before July 1, 2016, that agency or constable shall be deemed to have adopted, and shall follow and enforce, the model policy issued by the Criminal Justice Training Council.

(c) On or before September 15, 2014, and annually thereafter as part of their annual training report to the Council, every State, county, and municipal law enforcement agency and every constable who exercises law enforcement authority pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 1936a and who is trained in compliance with section 2358 of this title shall report to the Council and to the Racial Justice Oversight Board whether the agency or officer has adopted a fair and impartial policing policy in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section. The Criminal Justice Training Council shall determine, as part of the Council’s annual certification of training requirements, whether current officers have received training on fair and impartial policing as required by 20 V.S.A. 16 § 2358(e).

(d) On or before October 15, 2014, and annually thereafter on April 1, the Criminal Justice Training Council shall report to the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary Racial Justice Oversight Board which departments and officers have adopted a fair and impartial policing policy, and whether officers have received training on fair and impartial policing. Justice Oversight Board shall report this information to the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary annually on or before May 1.

(e)

(1) On or before September 1, 2014, every State, county, and municipal law enforcement agency shall collect roadside stop data consisting of the following:

(A) the age, gender, and race of the driver;
(B) the reason for the stop; (
(C) the type of search conducted, if any;
(D) the evidence located, if any; and
(E) the outcome of the stop, including whether:
(i) a written warning was issued;
(ii) a citation for a civil violation was issued;
(iii) a citation or arrest for a misdemeanor or a felony occurred; or
(iv) no subsequent action was taken.

(2) Law enforcement agencies shall work with the Criminal Justice Training Council Racial Justice Oversight Board and a vendor chosen by the Council Board with the goals of collecting uniform data, adopting uniform storage methods and periods, and ensuring that data can be analyzed. Roadside stop data, as well as reports and analysis of roadside stop data, shall be public.

(3) On or before September 1, 2016 and annually thereafter, law enforcement agencies shall provide the data collected under this subsection to the Racial Justice Oversight Board or a vendor chosen by the Criminal Justice Training Council Board under subdivision (2) of this subsection or, in the event the vendor is unable to continue receiving data under this section, to the Council Board. Law enforcement agencies shall provide the data collected under this subsection in an electronic format specified by the receiving entity. (4) The data provided pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be posted electronically in a manner that is analyzable and accessible to the public on the receiving agency’s website.

Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.

Justice For All Testimony to Vermont House Judiciary Committee

Justice For All

Testimony to Vermont House Judiciary Committee – 8 February, 2017 9:00 AM

Statehouse Room 11

Recognizing the chair and members of the committee who are charged with the responsibility of creating a framework that keeps us all safe, thank you for an opportunity to appear before you today.

I appear before you questioning where we are focusing our attention today. I ask that the committee consider the origin of Fair and Impartial Policing, which was Act 134 ,2012; “Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System” (Later Act 193, 2014) The legislative research of Act 2012 introduced empirical data outlining the existence of these disparities in the criminal justice system here in Vermont.   Reports from Dr. Stephanie Sequino of UVM, Dr. Jack McDevett of North Eastern University and Ashley Nellis (The Color of Justice) of the Sentencing Project further support this fact while suggesting that the problem in Vermont has worsened over the past five years.

Much progress has been made with addressing racial disparities in the law enforcement system and advancements can be made with funding and oversight. I respectfully implore the committee to return to the focus of addressing racial disparities across the entire criminal justice system. Further, we must acknowledge the work that must be done to address institutionalized racism in employment, education, housing, health services and the political process.

Echoing the testimony of Migrant Justice, Vermont ACLU, The Peace and Justice Center and the Human Rights Commission, we feel strongly that funding and oversight are required for effective implementation of a systematic approach that seeks to mitigate racial disparities in the criminal justice system. As the Racial Justice Reform Omnibus Bill is introduced this session, we ask that strong consideration be given to the Racial Justice Oversight Board to carry out this work.

Justice For All further submits the following observations and recommendations for the Committee’s consideration:

Refine legislative impact review process to protect marginalized communities. Legislative Racial Impact Assessment Process (existing and emerging legislation).

  • Require racial impact review of legislation
  • Establish commission to review current statutes for racial impact
  • Appoint/fund Human Rights commission to direct
  • Identify applicable statutes

Enhance policy and training requirements for increased public safety and accountability

  • Policy
    • Establish authority responsible for determining policy compliance and updating and maintaining model police
      • Amend Act 147, 2016 and Title 20, Ch 151, 2336
      • Implement “Model Use of Force Policy” for all law enforcement
    • Implement “Model Implicit Bias Policy” for all justice system workers
    • Require public posting by each law enforcement agencies policies
  • Training
    • Expedite implementation of FIPs training as per Act 147, 2016
    • Implement Use of Force and De-escalation in-service training requirements for all law enforcement personnel
      • Amend Act 147, 2016 and Title 20, Ch 151, 2336
      • Amend 20 V.S.A. § 2358
    • Include FIPs, Use of Force and De-escalation as requirements for annual in-service training VCJTC Rule 13
    • Require annual public posting on the progress of law enforcement training.
    • Implement recurring Implicit Bias training for all who work in the justice system.
      • Funding
      • Promulgation, reporting and monitoring
      • Identify statutes that pertain to all justice workers training.
    • Require annual public posting of training of all justice system personnel reporting, by department.

Expand Data Collection and reporting and provide appropriate accountability and oversight to provide accurate, meaningful and timely metrics. – Amend Act 147, 2016 and Title 20, Ch 151, 2336

  • Expand Data Collection and reporting by law enforcement from “traffic stops” to “all police community responses” (VSA 20 2366 (e) 1)
  • Define specific agency responsible for collecting, and making data available ALL law enforcement data (VSA 20 2366 (e) 2)
  • Expand reporting on training and policy to the remainder of the justice agencies
    • Oversight organization should be funded to collect, analyze and report
    • Expand continuous sentencing and incarceration data collection to other the justice agencies with the intent on identifying bias and measuring progress in the following areas:
      • the initial investigation by law enforcement;
      • the decision to lodge or release on citation
      • the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation;
      • the defendant’s decision whether to exercise the right to a trial by jury;
      • the plea negotiation process;
      • the judge’s bail decision
      • the prosecutor’s bail recommendation
      • the decision by prosecutors to file a particular charge
      • the judge’s sentencing decision as to a jail or probationary sentence;
      • the department of corrections’ programming decision, supervision practices, and its recommendation to release on parole; and
      • the parole board’s decision whether to grant parole

Extend enhanced citizens oversight to all law enforcement agencies to enable transparency and legitimacy.

  • Reorganize the State Police Advisory Commission 20 VSA, Ch 113§ 1922§ 1923. Internal Investigation
    • Re: Presidents Commission on 21st Century Policing (Pillar 2)
    • National Association for Civilian Oversight
    • Progress in other states
  • Establish a standing Independent Prosecutor assist the States Attorneys and the Attorney General in creating transparency, maintaining accountability and eliminating perceptions of bias
    • Identify Statutes that pertain
    • Consider one office
  • Expedite addressing the professional regulation of all law enforcement in the state as soon as possible.
    • Prioritize the emerging legislation
    • Review SPAC composition and IA statutes
  • Clarify citizen-reporting processes – Law Enforcement Advisory Board (Act 134, 2012) – “The board shall examine how individuals make complaints to law enforcement and suggest, on or before December 15, 2012, to the senate and house committees on judiciary what procedures should exist to file a complaint with law enforcement and the human rights commission”.
    • Board responded that they did not have sufficient time to address
    • Recommend that this be revisited to ensure a statewide process exists

Justice For All is confident that this committee will act swiftly and decisively on ensuring the safety of all Vermonters. We are grateful for your willingness to partner on this vitally important matter and appreciate your leadership.

Please accept the following supporting documentation:

  • Memo submitted to various legislators January 15, 2016 last year surrounding implementation of Fair and Impartial Policing
  • Legislative Findings – Act 134, 2012
  • Chiefs Statements on Race Data Collection, May, 2012
  • Statement on Race Data Collection from Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center & VT Multi-cultural Alliance for Democracy
  • Report from Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project – “The Color of Justice

 

Respectfully,

Mark A. Hughes,

Co-founder and Executive Director

Justice For All

Racial Disparities in Vermont Prisons

Racial Disparities in Vermont’ Prisons

6/28/2016

By Mark Hughes and Ashley Nellis, Ph. D.

A new report on racial disparities in state prisons underscores the need for policymakers and state administrators in Montpelier to take a hard look at the policies, practices and prejudices that are playing out in our state’s criminal justice system.

By disaggregating and analyzing U.S. Justice Department data the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization The Sentencing Project found that nationally, African Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites across the nation. In Vermont the ratio is even higher at 10 times the rate of whites across the nation. In fact, Vermont is the highest in the nation with one in 14 of all African American adult males in state prison.

The findings come in a period when many states, including Vermont, have responded to assertions of unfairness in the justice system in the aftermath of the highly reported Trayvon Martin shooting four years ago in Florida and the shooting and racial protests in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere more recently.

Policymakers and administrators in Vermont are aware of the disparities. Several states have legislated sentencing reforms or re-categorized drug cases in particular, which account for many of the convictions that lead to racial and ethnic disparities, so that possession and use of drugs is more likely today to lead to treatment rather than extended imprisonment. State officials know that in the aggregate African Americans are not disproportionately likely to commit certain drug crimes, but they nevertheless are more likely to wind up in prison where whites convicted of similar offenses may get alternative outcomes.

One of many practices that contribute to racial disparities in the criminal justice system in Vermont is the disproportionate number of traffic stops and searches of African Americans by law enforcement. The Vermont Advisory Committee to United States Commission on Civil Rights provided a briefing on the challenges of Racial Profiling in 2009. Some of the recommendations have yet to be undertaken. Traffic stop data analysis in 2012 concluded that African Americans were being stopped and searched at disproportionate rates by Vermont State (VSP), Burlington, South Burlington, UVM and Winooski Police Departments. In spite of a legislative mandate to collect race-based traffic stop data issued in 2012, this data is only beginning to become publicly accessible in 2016. VSP’s initial decision (in 2012) to release their data to third parties for analysis created discussion surrounding research veracity and efficacy and did little to provide true transparency or adopt the research as a benchmark from which to move forward. This year (with VSP’s long awaited release of five years of data), VSP released the data to Northeastern University and UVM as well as posted the raw data on their site. Based upon research produced by Dr. Jack McDevitt of Northeastern University, traffic stop racial disparities have increased in Vermont over the past five years. This is clearly as a result of the lack of transparency and a culture of denial. Dr. Stephanie Seguino’s (UVM) report on this data set is due to be released this week. In moving forward it is important that we move past using the collection of data to prove (or disprove) racial disparity, to that of using it to measure our progress towards parity. The consistent public release of the data will provide the transparency required for accountability in this area.  Internal commitment to progress, analysis of this data, policy implementation, training, and corrective actions (as required) will also be necessary to move these efforts forward. It is also important that we understand that this is a very small part of a much larger challenge.

In general, the national report suggests that while overt racism may not continually come into play in the criminal justice system, there are points of discretion in the system where arresting officers, prosecutors, judges and even defense attorneys may be predisposed to view one group differently from another. Policy makers in Vermont must work to achieve the transparency required to identify these points of discretion in the system and demand similar commitment to metrics, policy, training and corrective actions as required to ensure that Vermont lives up to it’s narrative of openness and fairness.

Concerns about differential treatment is important not only because every American is constitutionally entitled to fair and equal treatment under the law, but because of the collateral consequences that are attached to criminal convictions – reduced access to housing, education and employment opportunity chief among them.

There is a growing recognition across the country that mass incarceration practices have not contributed to public safety, but have instead created a system that is inefficient, unsustainable, and unfair mass incarceration has perpetuates disadvantages that African Americans and other people of color have endured historically. Solving foundational problems through improved access to education, decent housing, prevention services focused on at-risk youth, and job training and placement is continually challenging but important.

But equally crucial, and probably more immediately manageable, is the identification and remediation of the policies and behaviors that lead to over-incarceration and racial disparities in prison in Vermont and elsewhere. State officials must fashion reforms that make the justice system smarter, fairer and less costly both in dollars and in the loss of human potential. We owe it to ourselves in this political, social and racial climate of change in 2016.

Mark Hughes is an advocate for racial justice affiliated with Justice For All in Vermont. Ashley Nellis, Ph. D., is a senior researcher for The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., and author of The Color of Justice: racial and ethnic disparity in state prisons, available at http://www.sentencingproject.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intersecionality

Here is a great piece on intersectionality by our Baseline Coordinator.

To White Vermonters: Intersectionality

Marcia Hill

I have recently returned from the Women’s March in Washington, DC. It is not a simple matter to attend an event hundreds of miles away. But like many others, I felt so strongly that the country is headed in the wrong direction, however, that I was compelled to add my voice to those protesting the policies of the new administration. I consider peaceful protest to be a responsibility of citizenship, along with voting.

The marchers had signs addressing a range of issues.
Reproductive rights: My uterus is not your property.
Racism: On an infant carrier: Babies against white supremacy.
Gay rights: Love is love.
Women’s rights: Our rights are not up for grabs. Neither are we.
Immigrants: No human is illegal.
Native concerns: Water is life.
Religious and ethnic freedom: Japanese Americans against a Muslim registry.
Disability issues: I march for someone who cannot.
And direct reactions to Trump: Dump Trump.
In fact, the march was a clear demonstration of unity across a range of human rights concerns. Many signs spoke to this: “stronger together,” and “I’m with her” (with arrows pointing in all directions). This is intersectionality, and it is at the core of today’s push toward fairness and inclusion.

Historically, civil rights movements have mostly focused on one group at a time, although allies from other groups often supported a group’s efforts. This made sense as each group worked to create its own identity and to define its own priorities. Now, with much of that accomplished, many groups are recognizing how critical it is to band together and to support all social justice movements. Feminism has been at the forefront of this push and has made efforts to consider intersectionality for some years now, although there is much more work to do to make feminism truly inclusive. At a recent Justice for All (a Vermont group working for racial justice, particularly in policing and incarceration) meeting, a representative from a local advocacy group for the LGBTQIA community (Rainbow Umbrella) was there. It was a small start, but an important one.

One sign carried by an African American woman read “I hope all you white ladies will be at the next Black Lives Matter march.” It was a good reminder. An inclusive perspective about justice demands that we all address our own biases and discomforts. White people should indeed be at the next Black Lives Matter march. So should queer people. So should everyone who cares about justice.

Before the last election, my town had a candidates’ forum, and we had the opportunity to ask questions of those running for Vermont House seats. I asked what the candidates thought should be done about the racial disparity in incarceration rates in Vermont, since we are one of the worst states in the country in this area. Not a single candidate was aware of this. Not surprisingly, none had a considered response. When a problem does not affect you, it is easy to be unaware of it. When a problem does not affect you, it is easy not to act.

Social justice of all kinds is currently under profound threat in this country. We cannot afford to splinter into small groups working only for the matters that most concern us personally. We must band together. We must step away from the familiar and support the struggles of other people. The Women’s March offered a clear opportunity to see intersectionality because “women” is such a huge category, and it includes members of most other groups seeking inclusion and fairness. Let us take this as a model for our social justice thinking and action. All forms of justice are one struggle, whether for women or people of color or people with disabilities or queer people. At this point in history, no group can accomplish its goals in isolation; we need our allies. Will you be an ally?

Here are ways to begin. Educate yourself about one or two groups that are unlike you. Read or watch a movie about the Deaf community, or about Muslims, or Jews. Then broaden your education to add other groups. Do what you can to expand your circle of friends and acquaintances to include people unlike yourself. Are any of your friends queer? Non-white? Immigrants? Listen to the voices of people unlike yourself: follow their blogs or Twitter accounts. Finally, consider joining a group working for social justice as an ally, as someone who is not a member of the demographic in question but supports their efforts. For this, I would like to issue a particular challenge to straight white men. This is the group most underrepresented, in my experience, in social justice movements.

One final slogan seen at the Women’s March: “No one is free when others are oppressed.” We are one human family. If it is acceptable to treat any group of us badly, then we are all at risk of being treated badly. One family: one struggle for justice.

Important Meeting Follow-up and Next Steps

Hello friends and supporters of Justice for All!

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it out to our general meeting Thursday evening.  It was a huge success and we were able to cover a lot of ground toward our mission of bold community action. For those of you who were not able to attend, here are some highlights:

  1. We grounded ourselves in the Justice for All mission of racial justice through the examination and deconstruction of implicit bias and identifying and addressing institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system.
  2. We addressed healing and empowerment through relationship building and education. Our goal over the next 90 days is aggressive outreach focusing on these areas.
  3. We conducted breakout sessions to focus on our key functional areas and created action plans to move those areas forward.  Here are the areas with respective contact info.  Reach out to them immediately if you are interested in joining the groups because they are meeting this week!
    1. Research – Otto Muller muller.otto@gmail.com
    2. Outreach – Erin Rose erinarose802@gmail.com
    3. Relationship Management – Kattie Stromme katie.stromme@vcfa.edu
    4. Baseline – Marcia Hill- m.hill.vt@gmail.com

Special thank you to Karen Tronsgard-Scott of VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence for coming last night and speaking to our members about the incredible and vital work that their organization is doing.   As we deepen our commitment to intersectionality and supporting all members of our community, we will be engaging more guest speakers to share their work with us. Please be in touch if you or someone you know from an area organization would like to come and speak at a general meeting.

Our next general meeting will be from 6:00 till 8:00 PM at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier on February 16th.

Please join us in the Vigil and speak out in support of our Muslim brother and sisters on Wednesday, February 1st at 6:00 PM at the State House in Montpelier.  Justice For All speaks out against hate and intolerance, discriminatory immigration laws, mass incarceration, over policing, the criminalization of communities of color, deportations, and border militarization

As you consider where you are investing in social justice issues, remember the racial referendum that we just experienced in our national election.  Consider donating to Justice For All, an organically grown, Vermont-based racial justice organization  that has been here doing the work over the past couple of years.

Please help us with your membership, provide organizational support or simply provide a contribution.  Help us continue this work in Vermont.

Over this past year we worked in a coalition to successfully deliver the Vermont Fair and Impartial Policing Policy for all law enforcement agencies in the state.  Our work continues with numerous community outreach activities, Vermont Justice Coalition, Coalition on Racial Justice Reform, the Law Enforcement Professional Regulation Committee and much more but we need your help to continue.

#DecisionPoints is a open source data collection initiative that is underway.  This open platform will provide the community access to our data and enable transparency and accountability.  Help us with this effort.

Please take some time to review and sign our petition on Racial Justice Reform and fundraiser.

Thanks for the outpouring of support.

Mark A. Hughes, Executive Director,
Justice For All Cooperative, Inc

Follow us on Facebook:  Justice For All on Facebook

About Justice For All

Justice for All is a racial justice organization, which identifies and dismantles institutionalized racism while facilitating healing in our communities.  Our mission is to ensure justice for ALL through community organizing, research, education, community policing, legislative reform, and judicial monitoring. We address systemic issues such as racially biased policing and inequities in the criminal justice system.

Become a supporter or a member here.

Your contributions are always welcome here.
We call for a Constitutional Amendment that eliminates all reference to slavery from the Vermont State Constitution.

Source: Important Meeting Follow-up and Next Steps

Rise Up and Stand! Solidarity Vigil with Our Muslim and Refugee Community

Justice For All  speaks out against hate and intolerance, discriminatory immigration laws, mass incarceration, over policing, the criminalization of communities of color, deportations, and border militarization.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spanish Below

Contact:

Amanda Garces: 520-333-8864 (Montpelier)

Lisa Masse:  802.598.9206 (East Montpelier)

Erin Hurley: 508-367-6338 (Waterbury)

E-mail: Agcolombia@gmail.com

 

 

Jan. 31, 2017  MONTPELIER– In response to the current administration’s ban on Muslims, Vermont community members are mobilizing in solidarity with Muslim, Refugee and Immigrant Communities. Over 700 people will join in a vigil at the State House on Wednesday, February 1st at 6 p.m. in solidarity with the many refugees and immigrants impacted by the unlawful and immoral executive orders issued last week. All are welcome to attend.

People from around the state will meet on the steps of the State Capitol to speak out against hatred and intolerance and call on the larger community to stand together in opposition of the Trump administration’s radical, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim agenda.

In just one week, Trump has called to accelerate the already extreme militarization of border communities and expand racial profiling and religious discrimination. In both word and deed, the Trump administration has made it clear that it favors a white nationalist vision of America over one that values inclusiveness, equality, and justice for all.

Across the nation, thousands of people have come together in response to this brazen attack on Muslim and immigrant communities. Organizers of the vigil call on all people to stand up for what is just, organize with local, state and national organizations and take action to stop this ban and further attempts to criminalize their communities.

Speakers at the vigil will include: faith leaders, individuals and families impacted by the executive actions, local and state organizations, as well as community members. Their voices will bring hope, for they rise to uphold civil liberties and human rights. They speak out against hate and intolerance, discriminatory immigration laws, mass incarceration, over policing, the criminalization of communities of color, deportations, and border militarization.

Vermont’s residents cannot and will not remain silent because a community united is a strong community.

WHAT: Montpelier Solidarity Vigil with our Muslim and Refugee Communities

WHERE: Vermont State House, Montpelier

WHEN: Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 at 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

###

Sponsor Organizations:  Black Lives Matter VT, Vermont Interfaith Action, Islamic Society of Vermont, Rights and Democracy VT, Justice for All, ACLU VT, Migrant Justice, Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Beth Jacob Synagogue and Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP), Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine

 

Para Publicación Inmediata

Contacto:

Amanda Garces: 520-333-8864 (Montpelier)

Lisa Masse:  802.598.9206 (East Montpelier)

Erin Hurley: 508-367-6338 (Waterbury)

E-mail: Agcolombia@gmail.com

Las Comunidades se Unen el Miércoles en Solidaridad por Medio de una Vigilia con Velas

Enero. 31, 2017

MONTPELIER– En respuesta a la actual prohibición de musulmanes, miembros de la comunidad en Vermont se están movilizando en solidaridad con Musulmanes, Refugiados y Comunidades Inmigrantes.  Más de 700 personas se unirán en un vigilia en la casa estatal el Miércoles, primero de Febrero de 2017 a las 6:00 p.m. En solidaridad con los muchos refugiados e inmigrantes impactados por las órdenes ejecutivas inmorales e ilegales emitidas la semana pasada. Todos están invitados

Personas de alrededor del estado se reunirán en las escalas de la casa estatal para hablar en contra del odio y la intolerancia y para pedir a la comunidad en general para que se unan en oposición a la agenda radicalmente anti-inmigrante y anti-musulmana de Trump.

En solo una semana Trump está pidiendo acelerar lo que ya es una militarización extrema de las comunidades fronterizas y expandir el uso de perfil racial y la discriminación por religión.  En sus palabras y hechos, la administración de Trump lo muestra claro que favorece a una visión nacionalista de blancos en los Estados Unidos sobre una que incluya la igualdad y la justicia para todos.

A través de la nación, miles de personas se han unido en días recientes para responder a este ataque a los musulmanes y comunidades inmigrantes.  Las organizadoras de la vigilia llaman a la gente a que se levanten por lo que es justo, que se organicen con organizaciones locales, estatales, y nacionales y que tomen acción para parar esta prohibición y cualquier intento de seguir criminalizando sus comunidades.

Los/las oradores incluyen: Líderes de Fe, individuos y familias impactadas por las acciones ejecutivas, organizaciones locales y estatales, y miembros comunitarios. Sus voces traerán esperanza, ya que se levantan para defender los derechos civiles y humanos. Ellos hablan en contra del odio e intolerancia, leyes de inmigración discriminatorias encarcelación masiva, excesiva vigilancia policial, la criminalización de las comunidades de color, deportaciones y la militarización de la frontera.

Residentes de Vermont no pueden y no podrán mantener en silencio porque una comunidad unida es una comunidad fuerte.

¿QUE?: Vigilia en Solidaridad con las comunidades Musulmanas y de Refugiados en Montpelier

¿DONDE?  Vermont State House, Montpelier

¿CUANDO?: Miércoles, Primero de Febrero de 2017,  de 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

###

Organizaciones Patrocinando:  Black Lives Matter VT, Vermont Interfaith Action, Islamic Society of Vermont, Rights and Democracy VT, Justice for All, ACLU VT, Migrant Justice, Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Beth Jacob Synagogue and Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine(VTJP), Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine

Altered-Right: How White Nationalists Exploit Tragedy to Build a Narrative of White Victimhood | Southern Poverty Law Center

The false narrative of an epidemic of so-called “black-on-white crime” has long been one of the most effective deceptions in white nationalist propaganda, playing directly into an idea of besieged white populace while also attacking the press for censoring the “real facts.”

Source: Altered-Right: How White Nationalists Exploit Tragedy to Build a Narrative of White Victimhood | Southern Poverty Law Center

So when a horrific Facebook Live video of a white teenager abused by four black teens in Chicago appeared in a local news story in early January, racists were quick to claim the attack as part of their hateful narrative in hopes of greater mainstream media penetration.

They were successful, almost instantly, with the help of expansive social media network of virulent message boards, podcasts and Twitter. In the space of days, the facts of the case went through a now familiar mutation from local news story, to race baiting Twitter hashtag, to a media cover-up almost certainly orchestrated by Jews. And so, a story of a kidnapping provides a useful window into the machinations of opportunistic white nationalist distortions that have motivated domestic terrorism, most recently in the case of Dylann Roof.

On January 4, WFLD, a local fox affiliate in Chicago, reported that police were investigating four African-Americans who allegedly kidnapped and tortured a disabled, white man while yelling, “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!” Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24; were arrested in connection to the crimes, which they broadcast live via Facebook.

Almost as soon as the story broke, though, a pair of one-time racist “Alt-Right” power users – brand-obsessed exhibitionist Mike Cernovich and recently duped conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson — introduced the #BLMKidnapping hashtag to hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. Both Watson and Cernovich are click opportunists who, while having been relegated to the “alt-lite” for their lack of anti-Semitism, recognized and seized an opportunity to promote themselves around the racially radioactive story.

Given the grisly nature of the episode, the story quickly made the rounds of national news. Outlets like Breitbart weren’t far behind.

Breitbart’s headline questioned whether Chicago police were covering up an anti-white hate crime. The report cited statements from Chicago police that a decision hadn’t been made as to whether the crime would be charged as a hate crime given an ongoing investigation.

Neo-Nazis and white nationalist outlets, some of which believe that Breitbart has usurped their reporting on “black-on-white crime,” were far less reserved. That evening, the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin’s neo-Nazi propaganda shop, published its own story with the headline, “Negro Terrorists Livestream Kidnapping and Torture of White Trump Supporter.”

“Blacks in Africa have proved that they will murder whites even if it means starving to death,” Anglin wrote. “This is what each and every negro would like to do to each and every one of us, even if it means bringing the whole of civilization collapsing down on them.”

The next day, Jared Taylor, proprietor of American Renaissance, a white nationalist “think-tank” dedicated to misinterpreting government statistics related to crime and race, chimed in to raise the alarm about the media trying to omit the race of the perpetrators and the victim.

“They are so used to ignoring race—so long as it reflects badly on blacks—that they could not bring themselves to say the words ‘white’ or ‘black’ even in a case as racially charged as this,” Taylor said.

And then came the tenuous, and ultimately fraudulent, connections to Black Lives Matter through the hashtag #BLMKidnapping – tweeted more than 480,000 times in 24 hours. The accusations attempted to connect the mission of the multiracial coalition fighting against systemic racism to the perpetrators yelling “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!” at their victim.

VDARE, another pseudo-intellectual white nationalist outlet more narrowly focused on immigration policy, was happy to promote the #BLMKidnapping narrative anyway, despite its ideological divorce with Cernovich.

“A young white man was kidnapped by four blacks, inspired by Black Lives Matter propaganda, and anti-white, anti-Trump hate, the hate that comes from black leaders, the mainstream media, the Democratic Party…and the White House,” wrote James Fulford, a columnist at VDARE.

In a bizarre twist, Fulford voluntarily introduced Dylann Roof as an attempt to point out hypocrisy from the left while bemoaning the widespread removal of the Confederate battle flags around the South after photos surfaced of Roof with one in the wake of the shooting. The connection was analogous to him.

And Fulford wasn’t alone. The Daily Stormer posted its own story drawing a comparison with Roof the same day.

“The purpose of DyRo’s [Dylann Roof] act was not simply to murder innocent blacks for no reason. The purpose was to draw attention to black-on-white crime, a plague of murder, rape, robbery and violence affecting hundreds of thousands of victims every year in the country,” Anglin wrote. “If it were not for Jewish multiculturalism, Roof wouldn’t have done what he did. Just as if it were not for Jewish multiculturalism, four blacks wouldn’t have kidnapped a man in Chicago and tortured him for 48 hours.”

Anglin, who is first and foremost an anti-Semite, doubled down the next day by attempting to justify the connection to Black Lives Matter by blaming Jewish influence.

“The filthy Jewish media is flipping the hell out about people calling the Facebook livestreamed black-on-white kidnapping and torture event in Chicago the #BLMKidnapping,” Anglin wrote. “The entire BLM movement is about using a political face – that is to say, complaining about non-existent institutional injustices – to justify and to amplify black racial animosity towards whites. And because of that, random black-on-white crime is now becoming more organized and directed black-on-white crime. The spirit of BLM was entirely embodied in this act.”

Several days removed from the actual crime, the white nationalist version of events became fodder for their podcasts, which typically escape much scrutiny given the time investment required to listen to them, but have dedicated followings.

With a completely concocted fact sheet about the event, hosts from “The Daily Shoah” on The Right Stuff radio further embellished the nearly unrecognizable tale with centuries old racial stereotypes about black criminality and sexuality.

“Blacks are very predatory by nature,” one host submitted. “They possess that animalistic, predatory nature to them. … Whenever you see a really drunk, ugly chick at the bar, that’s where the negroes are going to fucking herd around. This is the sort of behavior you see in rape cases. This is the sort of behavior you see in murder cases. It’s always people that are weak and they single them out.”

Paul Kersey, speaking to Taylor on American Renaissance radio stoked similar fears describing what transpired in Chicago as, “[An] Unbelievable image to showcase what it’s like for a white minority. … I think a lot of white people who watch this video are saying, ‘Wow, is this what white people will have to endure in the future when we’re minorities?’”

Three days later, The Right Stuff posted an article echoing Taylor. “After all, we on the Alt Right know the statistics. This is what blacks do when they have the opportunity, the numbers, and the tacit support of the government. It is not an aberration; it is closer to a genetic imperative.”

Ultimately, all of this formulaic stoking of rage and obfuscation of facts that ricochets back and forth across the white nationalist corners of the web is familiar and predictable. With the country at historic levels of partisanship and trust in the media at an all time low, the rewards for white nationalists seeking to recruit and organize have never been greater.

Days after the story broke, Anglin called for the formation of “anti-criminal” white gangs and a new white youth culture.

The disturbing irony of the whole saga, which has proven to be scalable and repeatable, is that while the echo chamber reverberated, the four suspects were ultimately charged with a litany of crimes including aggravated kidnapping, hate crime; aggravated unlawful restraint; aggravated battery deadly weapon; robbery; PSMV and residential burglary; according to WFLD.

A correction doesn’t seem likely.

Obama’s DOJ Got Aggressive On Civil Rights And Police Abuse. Now Trump Could Roll It All Back. | The Huffington Post

 

Source: Obama’s DOJ Got Aggressive On Civil Rights And Police Abuse. Now Trump Could Roll It All Back. | The Huffington Post

“A lot of the issues that folks believe are most vulnerable are the very issues where this Justice Department has been out in front.”

01/10/2017 07:00 am ET | Updated Jan 11, 2017 470

WASHINGTON ― Last month, a few weeks after Donald Trump was elected and not long after he selected Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as his nominee for attorney general, employees of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division gathered in the cavernous Great Hall inside the Robert F. Kennedy Building.

At the event, top Justice Department officials honored the attorneys who had handled the most complicated and controversial civil rights investigations in recent memory:

  • The dozen people behind the division’s blistering report on the Baltimore City Police Department, which a 15-month investigation concluded displayed patterns of unconstitutional conduct.
  • The two attorneys who secured the first hate crime convictions involving both racial and sexual orientation bias in a case in which a gay black man was attacked with a frying pan and a sock filled with batteries, pistol-whipped, sodomized with a broom, whipped with a belt and doused with bleach on his face and in his eyes.
  • The lawyer who moved his entire family to Arizona to take on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which was run until recently by Joe Arpaio, the prominent Trump supporter currently facing a criminal contempt of court charge for disobeying a federal judge’s order in a racial profiling case.
  • A lawyer who helped challenge North Carolina’s HB2, an anti-LGBT law that would ban transgender individuals from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
  • The deputy chief of the Civil Rights Division’s criminal section, who won convictions against “dozens of abusive law enforcement officers.”

Under President Barack Obama, the federal government has often been at the forefront of civil rights issues, staking out aggressive positions on key civil liberties and boosting the work of advocates. The question many career Civil Rights Division attorneys are pondering is whether they’ll be able to keep doing their work.

“A lot of the issues that folks believe are most vulnerable are the very issues where this Justice Department has been out in front,” Vanita Gupta, chief of the Civil Rights Division, said in a recent interview in a conference room that once served as J. Edgar Hoover’s office. “That’s voting rights, that’s policing, that’s criminal justice reform, it’s LGBT rights.”

BALTIMORE SUN VIA GETTY IMAGES
Vanita Gupta, the current head of the Civil Rights Division, at an Aug. 10, 2016, news conference on the Justice Department’s findings on the Baltimore City Police Department.

Employees of the Civil Rights Division wonder what will become of the Baltimore investigation or the many other police department probes opened during the Obama administration (including in Chicago, the largest city police force they’ve ever looked at). They don’t know with any certainty whether individual law enforcement officers will continue to face federal prosecution for excessive force. They can’t predict whether the new administration will roll back potential investigations into Trump’s law enforcement supporters, including Arpaio. They can only guess whether Sessions, who opposed hate crime protections for LGBT people, will allow vigorous prosecutions to continue, or whether Sessions’ DOJ will retreat from the federal government’s battle against an anti-LGBT law in North Carolina.

Speaking in the Great Hall, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates praised Civil Rights Division employees as “trailblazers” who “open minds and change hearts” through an “unshakable commitment to fairness and justice, to opportunity and equality.”

Many of the attorneys in the room were thinking about their future and were “uncertain” whether their accomplishments would last, she acknowledged. Keeping up the battle for civil rights within the federal government would fall on their shoulders, Yates said.

“Your voice as the protectors of our fundamental rights is every bit as potent now and in the years to come as it has been over the years that have passed,” Yates said. “So even though I will no longer be a part of this department, I, like millions of your fellow citizens, will be counting on you going forward ― counting on you to continue to bend the arc toward justice.”

Your voice as the protectors of our fundamental rights is every bit as potent now and in the years to come as it has been over the years that have passed.Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates

Obama administration officials are proud of where the division stands today, especially considering how they found it at the end of the George W. Bush administration. Talking to Civil Rights Division employees who made it through the Bush administration “felt like grief counseling,” one Obama administration official said. The Obama transition team found a division they said was “demoralized and damaged” by “oppressive” political appointees who were “hostile” to civil rights enforcement. The previous administration, a transition team report said, “abandoned the Division’s traditional mission and goals, consistently sacrificed sound law enforcement principles for political ends, and waged an internal war against career employees.”

An investigation by DOJ’s watchdog found that Bush administration officials worked to hire what one official described as “right-thinking Americans.” It was part of a plan targeting employees the Bush official called “crazy libs,” “commies” and “pinkos” inside the division. “Bitchslapping” Civil Rights Division employees, he said in one email, “really did get the blood pumping.”

“I remember vividly, because I was on the Obama transition: Some of the career people told me during the transition, and this is not a paraphrase, they felt they had PTSD,” Tom Perez, the first chief of the Civil Rights Division under Obama, said in a recent interview. “Articles of faith, basic systems that had been in place for 40 years were undermined by the Republicans. They looked at who donated to political campaigns before they made hiring decisions. That was not only wrong, it was illegal.”

LAURA SEGALL / REUTERS
Tom Perez, right, then chief of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, outlines racial profiling findings on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at a Dec. 15, 2011, news conference in Phoenix. 

One of the conservative attorneys hired into the division by the Bush official led a rare voter intimidation lawsuit against two members of the fringe New Black Panther Party who stood outside a polling place in north Philadelphia in 2008, though no voters in the overwhelmingly black district said they were intimidated. When career lawyers scaled back the scope of the lawsuit in the early days of the Obama administration, the decision received seemingly endless coverage in the conservative media, and it ballooned into a political controversy that dragged on for years.

Today, the Civil Rights Division is near capacity, and the administration has implemented rules intended to prevent politicized hiring decisions. (Critics might say the Obama administration simply filled the division with liberals, and it’s fair to say that attorneys who dedicate their careers to civil rights work tend to lean left.)

Gupta said she believes that Civil Rights Division lawyers will stay “as long as the career men and women of the division feel like they can continue to enforce our federal civil rights laws with the rigor that they demand,” even if the new administration prioritizes different issues.

“If the core and fundamental work of the Civil Rights Division continues to be advanced, I suspect that the division lawyers are going to stay and keep doing that work,” Gupta said.

Perez hopes they’ll stick around too. “If I got a call from a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division, I would recommend that they stay,” he said. “The work they do is righteous and it’s really important, and they need to continue to do it.”

RICK WILKING / REUTERS
A protester yells at police stationed outside the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 8, 2015. The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson raised the profile of the Justice Department’s work on policing issues.

Not all civil rights work is necessarily going to fade away under Trump. The Community Relations Service ― the federal government’s “peacemakers” who helped calm tensions in Sanford, Florida, following the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin — will likely continue its typically low-profile work. Although the service’s work has come under attack at conservative media outlets, where employees of the 52-year-old unit are portrayed as protest instigators and organizers, there’s no reason to believe their work will change dramatically under the new president.

“The vast majority of the staff here are career,” says Paul Monteiro, the acting director of the CRS. “The work goes on, our statutory mandates continue.” He sees one of his unit’s largest challenges as adapting to the social media world and dealing with modern, informal organizations that can have a big effect on the community. “It’s our job to meet the community where they are,” Monteiro said.

The Community Relations Service’s long record and congressionally mandated existence make big changes to its work unlikely. But the Office for Access to Justice, which the Obama administration established at DOJ in 2010 to increase access to counsel and legal assistance in the United States, faces a more uncertain fate.

“We can’t speak for the next administration and what they choose to do,” says Karen Lash, a Justice Department official who served as executive director of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable. But the issues the unit worked on shouldn’t be partisan, she argued. “I do believe the incoming administration will care about getting homeless veterans into housing, unemployed Americans back to work, protecting victims of domestic violence or elder abuse, and really ensuring that the systems of government work as best and as efficiently as they possibly can,” Lash said. “Ensuring access to justice, a central pillar of our democracy, is just fundamentally nonpartisan.”

The Obama administration has also made big changes to the Justice Department’s sentencing policies and made wide use of clemency, which, along with other factors, have helped make him the first president since Jimmy Carter to leave office with fewer federal prisoners than when he came in. Under Trump, the self-proclaimed “law and order” candidate, those initiatives are in jeopardy.

But as the enforcer of laws that some don’t believe should be on the books, the Civil Rights Division looks likely to become a flashpoint. That could be especially true when it comes to policing.

Under Bush, Obama’s transition team wrote in their 2008 transition report, the division did not use “its authority to address systemic problems of police misconduct.” Under Obama, the Civil Rights Division has opened up 25 so-called pattern-or-practice investigations of police departments across the country, and the Justice Department is rushing to complete the investigation into the Chicago Police Department, the largest pattern-or-practice investigation of a city police force that DOJ has conducted.

The Obama administration shifted resources back to policing cases, investigating departments and helping implement reform in New Orleans, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Seattle and other cities. But DOJ’s police work has gotten more attention since the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American.

With the proliferation of smartphones and the spread of social media, it will be only a matter of time before another police encounter draws national attention and scrutiny of local policing practices. These days, that outcry is usually followed by calls for the federal government to step in.

Videos have helped force conversations on policing that civil rights advocates could not have imagined just a few years ago, says Gupta, who joined the Justice Department from the American Civil Liberties Union shortly after the Ferguson unrest. Gupta, who is quick to credit activists with pushing policing into the foreground, said recently that it would be a “radical departure” for the Justice Department to stop conducting pattern-or-practice investigations to look for widespread problems at individual law enforcement agencies, and it would be “out of step” with where law enforcement leaders are.

“There is a recognition of the division’s role in the current conversation in policing,” Gupta said, despite the charged national conversation around law enforcement since Ferguson. Perez said law enforcement leaders were thankful that the Justice Department investigated their agencies and were able to implement reform, even if they couldn’t take that position in public.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has put an emphasis on easing built-up tensions between the feds and some law enforcement leaders since her confirmation in April 2015, still views pattern-or-practice investigations as a key tool. She wrote in her exit memo this month that the Justice Department “must continue to investigate credible allegations of constitutional policing, and, where necessary, work with local authorities to implement meaningful changes.”

Progressive law enforcement leaders, Gupta said, are going to continue to push the envelope on use of force, de-escalation tactics, racial bias and community policing “regardless of who sits in the White House,” because those issues affect their officers in the field.

“I think it’s really about DOJ’s role in all of it that is most in question,” Gupta said. She hopes the Trump administration won’t just sit back if a tragic event sparks unrest and draws attention to the need for reform in a particular jurisdiction.

“It’s hard to imagine how the entrenched concerns around policing will be remedied without the important role of the Justice Department in those conversations,” Gupta said. “My hope is that will be allowed to continue because I think it’s very vital and important. It seems hard to turn back the clock, though. It really does.”

LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) awaits confirmation as the next U.S. attorney general.

Perez said he was concerned that, with law enforcement supporters like Sheriff Arpaio, the next administration will adopt a “Donald Trump philosophy” of policing, which he described as pitting police against their communities instead of building trust.

“They ask the question: ‘Whose side are you on, the police or the community?’ That’s the wrong question, and it’s a dangerous question,” says Perez, who is in the running to head the Democratic National Committee. “If that’s the philosophy that this administration is going to bring to policing, then we’re in for a world of hurt.”

Also on HuffPost

The Women’s March – Next Meeting

cropped-Justice-For-All-2.jpg

Hello friends and supporters of Justice for All!

It is a new year and we are gearing up for a full agenda of important events and actions around the state. To begin, Justice For All is thrilled to be participating in Saturday’s Women’s March on Montpelier. As both a national and local event, this action on January 21st is a vital declaration that we as citizens are going to raise a unified voice and stand up for what is right in our communities.

We at Justice For All are proud to be a part of this movement and we need your help! If you are interested in marching with a group of folks from JFA, plan to meet us at Montpelier High School at 12:45pm. We are also looking for volunteers to join us in canvassing and circulating petitions on the March and at the statehouse.

Additionally, Justice for All will have an information table set up at the Christ Episcopal Church from noon to 4:00. We are also looking for people to (wo)man this table to help share our mission, get the word out on racial justice work in Vermont, and get some signatures on those petitions!

To let us know how you would like to get involved call Erin at 272-8392 or send her an e-mail at erinarose802@gmail.com

Finally,  Justice For All gathers for a monthly meeting in Montpelier from 6:00 till 8:00 PM on Thursday, January 26th.   Major agenda items will include community outreach planning and a discussion on the Racial Justice Reform Omnibus Bill.  Attorney General, T.J. Donavan and Washington County States Attorney Scott Williams have been invited.  Light refreshments and childcare included.   Please coordinate childcare in advance.  The location will be announced shortly.

As you consider where you are investing in social justice issues, remember the racial referendum that we just experienced in our national election.  Consider donating to Justice For All, an organically grown, Vermont-based racial justice organization  that has been here doing the work over the past couple of years.

Please help us with your membership, provide organizational support or simply provide a contribution.  Help us continue this work in Vermont.

Over this past year we worked in a coalition to successfully deliver the Vermont Fair and Impartial Policing Policy for all law enforcement agencies in the state.  Our work continues with numerous community outreach activities, Vermont Justice Coalition, Coalition on Racial Justice Reform, the Law Enforcement Professional Regulation Committee and much more but we need your help to continue.

#DecisionPoints is a open source data collection initiative that is underway.  This open platform will provide the community access to our data and enable transparency and accountability.  Help us with this effort.

Please take some time to review and sign our petitions on Civilian Oversight of Vermont Law Enforcement and Racial Justice Reform and fundraiser.

Thanks for the outpouring of support.

Mark A. Hughes, Executive Director,
Justice For All Cooperative, Inc

Follow us on Facebook:  Justice For All on Facebook

 

About Justice For All

Justice for All is a racial justice organization, which identifies and dismantles institutionalized racism while facilitating healing in our communities.  Our mission is to ensure justice for ALL through community organizing, research, education, community policing, legislative reform, and judicial monitoring. We address systemic issues such as racially biased policing and inequities in the criminal justice system.

Become a supporter or a member here.

Your contributions are always welcome here.
We call for a Constitutional Amendment that eliminates all reference to slavery from the Vermont State Constitution.

New Administration, Legislature Returns: JFA Calls For Racial Justice Reform (Constitutional Amendment)

Police Shootings Louisiana

Addressing implicit bias is the only way to mitigate the racial disparities created by institutionalized racism. Our national and state approach in doing so in our criminal justice system involves data collection, policy, training and oversight. As we double down on our commitment to implement these tools to address law enforcement, we must commit to addressing the remainder of the criminal justice system. It is crucial that we also address institutionalized racism in other critical systems. We call for the appointment of a Racial Justice Oversight Board with a mandate to continue the management of the implementation of racial justice reform across the entire criminal justice system and the expansion of this approach into employment, education, health and human services, and housing with a comprehensive approach including data collection, policy, training and oversight.

 

bernie-blacks

We suggest that the Board be charged with oversight, implementation, monitoring and reporting of Act 147 2016 and Act 193 2014. We ask that the legislature move on the following list of priorities with required appropriations and assign implementation and oversight to the Racial Justice Oversight Board.

 

1) Move for Vermont State Constitutional Amendment that clarifies reference to slavery in Article I

2) Institute a state sponsored grants for racial justice research, training and education

3) Expedite the completion of FIP training for all law enforcement officers (target end of 2017)

4) Mandate model “Use of Force” data collection policy and training for all law enforcement

5) Prohibit S.W.A.T. or other heavy-handed punitive policing

6) Mandate that racial profiling to be illegal by state statute

7) Prohibit property seizers that financially incentivize police and prosecutors

8) Mandate civilian oversight of law enforcement and all criminal justice system departments

9) Mandate data collection and FIP policy and training for all criminal justice system personnel

10) Mandate Racial Impact Assessments as a requirement for all Bills to become enacted

 

You may review and sign the Petition for Racial Justice Reform (and Constitutional Amendment) here. 

Petition