Systemic Racism Equity Commission Heating up in Vermont House and Senate

Senate Government Operations: PASS S.281 out of Committee as a FUNDED Independent Commission

All,

Please ask Senate Government Operations to pass S.281 out of Committee as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Systemic Racism Mitigation Commission.  Senate Government Operations has had S.281 since January 3rd“  Now is not the time for analysis paralysis on forming a commission to address systemic racism mitigation.

Senate Government Operations continues to flirt with ideas like placing the commission under the Governor’s Office; in the Governor’s Office as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; in the Human Rights Commission’s Office.  None of these options will give the Commission the independence autonomy required to focus on SYSTEMIC RACISM MITIGATION.  There will be another hearing on Wednesday, February 21st at 2:00 PM.  Come out with us to ask that this vital legislation be voted out of Committee.

  1. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.
  2. SHOW UP on Wednesday! and bring your #racialjusticereformvt placard
  3. Please call the Statehouse and leave a message for Senators, White, Clarkson, Ayer, Pearson, Balint and Ashe (with S.281 in the subject line) asking that the committee “use the amendment offered by the coalition and supported and vote S.281 out of Senate Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” 802.828.2228
  4. Please send an email to this address vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com requesting the bill be “use the amendment offered by the coalition and supported by the sponsor AND vote S.281 out of Senate Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” (please place S.281 in the subject line)

Here is the bill as introduced and the proposed amendment that the coalition and bill sponsor are putting forward.  Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and again the  Q&A  to S.281 to verse you in the bill background and details.

House Government Operations: PASS H.868 out of
Committee as a FUNDED Independent Commission 

The House Judiciary, on the advice of Representative Christie chose NOT TO TAKE UP H.868.  Their reasoning was that they wanted to “wait and see what comes over from the Senate”, with crossover less than a month away and the real potential of the bill returning to House Judiciary for additional work!  The bill is now in House Government Operations.   This bill (also submitted by the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, largely reflects our intent but our last proposed revisions missed the deadline.  We’d like to discuss and debate these proposed amendments but we can’t do it unless the bill is taken up.   Help us get the bill out of Committee as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission! 

  1. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.
  2. Please call the Statehouse and leave a message for Representatives, Townsend, LaClair, Kitzmiller, Brumsted, Devereux, Gannon, Gardner, Harrison, Lewis, Toleno, Weed, Korwinski and Speaker Johnson to “take up, amend and vote H.868 out of House Judiciary as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” 802.828.2228
  3. Please send an email to this address vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com requesting them to “take up, amend and vote H.868 out of House Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission”( please place H.868 in the subject line).

Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and the  Q&A on H.868 to verse you in the bill background and details.

Please print this placard and bring it with you on the day of testimony

 

Testimony on Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Act 54 and S.281 Opens

 

Delivering on a promise of hope and a future…

Great News,

We have an exciting week coming up!

First Senate Government Operations will be taking testimony on the Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Act 54 and S.281 on Wednesday, January 24th.  Testimony will be in the Ethan Allen Room at the Statehouse and will start right after the Senate returns from the floor.

Here is more on the Testimony Day  https://www.facebook.com/events/810182899153124/

Print this placard and bring it with you on the day of testimony

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the Floor – Ethan Allen Room          Fair and Impartial Policing Model Policy

  • Rick Gauthier, Director, VT Criminal Justice Training Council
  • Jay Diaz, Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union – Vermont
  • Will Lambek, Migrant Justice
  • Enrique Balcazar, Farm worker, Migrant Justice
  • Keith Clark, Sheriff, Windham County Sheriff’s Department

2:30          Act 54

An act relating to the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel

  • T.J. Donovan, Vermont Attorney General
  • Mark Hughes, Justice for All
  • Karen L. Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
  • David Scherr, Assistant Attorney General, Vermont Attorney General’s Office

3:30          S. 281 – An act relating to the Systemic Racism Mitigation Oversight and Equity Review Board

Walkthrough

  • Brynn Hare, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
  • Curtiss Reed, Executive Director, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity
  • Diana Wahle, Community Equity Collaborative
  • Mark Hughes, Justice for All

Secondly, don’t forget to come out for Systemic Racism Awareness Legislative Day!  Here you learn more about the issue and how it impacts us in Vermont. We’ll also offer an overview of the S.281 and help you with some tools that will be helpful in discussing it.

Find out more and sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1582993471821380/

As aways here are some things that you can DO:

  • Offer testimony on on the 24th (personally or written)
  • Show up at the Legislative Day on the 25th
  • Communicate this call to action to your organizational network
  • Send note to Senate Government Operations Committee requesting that they vote the bill out of Committee  vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com
  • Call state house and ask them to pass a message to Senators, White, Balint and Ashe, asking them to pass the bill out of committee now. Here is the number:  828.2228

Forward Together!

 

 

#RacialJusticeReformVT

 

Ask Senator White and the Senate Government Operations Committee to Take up S.281 to address Systemic Racism

Addressing Systemic Racism in Vermont

All,

Last session we passed a historic bill that (H.308, Act 54) that directed additional analysis on an issue that most all of us already knew existed. We spoke of it in terms in which people are generally more comfortable.  Racial disparities.  The truth is that instead of discussing the product of this national sin, we must move to discussing and addressing it at its root. Systemic racism.

Here is the report that was directed by Act 54, released last month by the Attorney General and Human Rights Commission.  The Disparities Panel Report is forthcoming.

Systemic racism is not simply about racism.  It has also historically been used to create wealth and power..and poverty, the vast majority which in number has been assigned to white people.  It has also been used to justify and sustain war.

S.281  will establish a commission that has the responsibility of managing an ongoing mitigation program!  After the bill is taken up, we will have an opportunity to offer amendments.  Go here to see what the Coalition has drafted as proposed language for the bill.

You might ask how you can help.  Here are some ways:

1)   Communicate this call to action to your organizational network

2)   Send note to Senate Government Operations Committee requesting that they take up the bill: vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com

3)   Call state house and ask them to pass a message to Senators, White, Balint and Ashe, asking them to take this important bill up now. Here is the number:  828.2228.

#racialjusticereformvt

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods… of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Dr King, Letter from Birmingham

2018 Session Starts: Equity Commission on Systemic Racism Mitigation is on the Table

 

All,

Systemic racism continues to be at the heart our social and political processes and policies.  The issue was acknowledged through the enactment of legislation that asked for advice through a panel, the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General (H.308).  We must now create the Commission that has the authority to take action necessary to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont.

S.281 is the bill being put forth to do so.  I have asked the Senate Judiciary Chair to take up the bill and informed the sponsor of our desire to modify the bill with our proposed language.

Now is the time to call for the Senate Judiciary to take up this bill.  Here is what you can do to make it happen:

1)   Communicate this call to action to your organizational network

2)   Send note to Senate Government Operations Committee requesting that they take up the bill: vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com

3)   Call state house and ask your Senator and Chairman Sears to act now. Here is the number:  828.2228

Go here to see what the Coalition has drafted as proposed language for the bill.

Coalition background research

We will be unable to truly address any of our social issues at their core, unless we address systemic racism.

Now is the time!

Racial Justice Reform Coalition

#racialjusticereformvt

Racial Justice Reform Coalition Receives Human Rights Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Erin Rose, Justice For All Outreach Director: 802.272.8392

Racial Justice Reform Coalition Receives Human Rights Award

Montpelier, Vermont, December 19, 2017 – The Racial Justice Reform Coalition, an organization anchored by Justice For All, a Vermont racial justice organization announced that it received a Human Rights Award from the Rights and Democracy Educational Fund on December 10, 2017.  James Haslam, Rights and Democracy Executive Director said that, “this was a logical choice, given societal impact of systemic racism both nationally and in Vermont”.  James Duff Lyall, Executive Director of the Vermont ACLU, a member of the Coalition agreed, ““It’s critically important that we build on concentrated and sustained efforts to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont—and that we take action.”

The Award was for “Advancing the effort for Vermont to address systemic racial disparities in Statewide systems of criminal and juvenile justice.” ACT 54, Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel, created an advisory panel to address systemic racism in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and empowered the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission to make recommendations to address the same across all other systems. The Fair and Impartial Policing Policy was addressed in the legislation as well. Ellen Shwartz, President of the Vermont Worker’s Center, a member organization of the Coalition said “the passage of this law is a public acknowledgement that systemic racism exists…we need to ensure that Vermont is uprooting systemic racism not only in our justice system, but also in other areas…”

The Racial Justice Reform Coalition has remained active in monitoring Act 54 implementation and undertaking other initiatives related to racial justice reform in Vermont. A Racial Justice Reform Coalition Winter Gathering will take place on December 21st in the Montpelier Room at

the Capitol Plaza Hotel at 4:00 PM. to acknowledge the work and unveil the 2018 Legislative Agenda. There will be refreshments, live music and a cash bar. The event is being announced as being open to the public. “Racial discrimination crosses all lines, including disability and the intersection of discrimination of people with disabilities who are also people of color continues to be problematic. Real solutions, like that of a continued legislative platform offers hope that will allow us to look at data and combat this problem openly and together” said Sarah Launderville, Executive Director of Vermont Center for Independent Living, another Coalition organization.

 

###

About Justice For All
Justice for All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.

Official Lift Off of the Poor People’s Campaign: National Call For A Moral Revival

Vermonters,

The Poor People’s Campaign is here!

50 years ago, on December 4, 1967, the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. announced plans for a Poor People’s Campaign and called on the nation to take dramatic steps to end poverty and combat inequality. This multi-racial organizing effort and the dream of a fairer nation was assassinated along with Dr. King four months later to the day, on April 4, 1968.

The Poor People’s Campaign of Vermont will be live streaming “We a Are Here, A Poor People’s Call for a Moral Revival” at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, starting at 6:30 PM.  We will start with freedom songs locally. We will then go live to Washington DC, at the Howard Theatre to view a program honoring the civil rights movement and the emergence of a new energy for a moral revival. This event will feature the Kairos Center, Repairers Of The Breach, Ben and Jerry’s, The Campaign For Black Male Achievement, and multiple artists including Aloe Blacc, Sweet Honey In The Rock, J. Period and a special performance by Maxwell. This concert affirmation coincides with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s initial 1967 Campaign Call. It will be a night of reflection, inspiration and an opportunity for action.

About Poor People’s Campaign: PPC was created on December 4, 1967, by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to address the impact of poverty on the lives of millions of Americans.

If you are ready to pledge to action in the Vermont Poor People’s Campaign, please fill out the national pledge card here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScTvNlethQeIs9LTH2PNaesZ-xUYQIsvtM_oVhjZFpfJeQgbQ/viewform

If you can’t join us in person, the event will be broadcast live at the Repairers on the Breach website:
https://www.breachrepairers.org/#news-section

To read more about the campaign, visit poorpeoplescampaign.org

Here is the event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1750326621937244/

 

Vermont Poor People’s Campaign
Organizing Committee

#MoralRevival

#PoorPeoplesCampaign

#GivingTuesday

Friends and supporters,

We have two days for getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On #GivingTuesday, we have a day for giving back. Together, people are creating a new ritual for our annual calendar. #GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season: a reminder of the “reason for the season.”Over this past years we have worked with coalition partners to successfully deliver the Vermont Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Law Enforcement Professional Regulation and the Act 54 (Racial Disparities Panel). Our work continues with numerous community outreach activities, Vermont Justice Coalition, the Racial Justice Reform Coalition and much more, but we need your help to continue.

Can you help us to continue the work of addressing systemic racism in the criminal justice system and beyond?  Here are four quick ways that you can be a part of this work:

                                                       

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

P.S.

Don’t forget about the The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.  Vermont’s New Poor Peoples Campaign will serve as a vehicle for us to take the people’s agenda to the statehouse.  Sign the National Pledge Card here and be on the lookout for details on the December 4th (3:30 PM) Press Conference and Viewing Party of the Poor People’s Campaign National Launch: A National Call for Moral Revival in Washington, DC (hold the date).

#MoralRevival
#PoorPeoplesCampaign

Mark Hughes,
ED, JFA

#racialjusticereformvt

FBI warns of “Black Identity Extremists” Pose growing Threat to Law Enforcement

This was printed in the New York Daily October 7th, 2017.   You can find a copy of the FBI report here.
This is deeply disturbing in that we have moved to a return of CoIntelPro, an FBI Counterintelligence program. The mission was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or OTHERWISE NEUTRALIZE [emphasis added] the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.”
This operation was REAL.  Here is the first of 23 documents on CoIntelPro (against African Americans) from the FBI Vault.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, October 7, 2017, 12:50 AM

FBI Intelligence Assessment document: "Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers," dated Aug. 3, 2017.

FBI Intelligence Assessment document: "Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers," dated Aug. 3, 2017. (FBI)

While white supremacists were planning to rally in Charlottesville, Va., the FBI’s counterterrorism unit identified “black identity extremists” as a growing threat, it has been revealed.

The FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, which dubbed the group BIE, said “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement,” according to an Aug. 3 report obtained by Foreign Policy.

Citing Michael Brown’s 2014 death in Ferguson, Mo., as the catalyst, the FBI listed specific cases, saying it was “likely the BIE suspects acted in retaliation for perceived past police brutality incidents.”

Among them was Micah Johnson, a former Army reservist who shot dead five Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest against police violence last year.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Officers in riot gear confronted demonstrators protesting Michael Brown's death on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.(JAMES KEIVOM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

There have been 98 law enforcement fatalities this year so far, compared to 102 during the same period last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Among the fatalities in 2017, 36 were firearms-related– down from 44 this time last year– while the vast majority were attributed to traffic accidents, fires, illnesses and other causes.

In comparison, 748 people have been shot and killed by police in 2017, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post.

 The term “black identity extremists” appears to be a new term, and some contested the phrase for suggesting a cohesive, overarching ideology.
An undated image of Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who fatally shot five officers in July 2016.
An undated image of Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who fatally shot five officers in July 2016. (FACEBOOK)

One former homeland security official told Foreign Policy, “They are grouping together Black Panthers, black nationalists, and Washitaw Nation.”

“Imagine lumping together white nationals, white supremacists, militias, neo-Nazis, and calling it ‘white identity extremists,” the official said. “The race card is being played here deliberately.”

Malcolm Nance, a counterterrorism expert who served in the U.S. Navy, wrote on Twitter, “I train law enforcement intelligence in counterterrorism all over nation & “Black Identity Extremism” doesn’t exist. It’s a made up term.”

Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson pointed to the FBI’s long history of surveilling black activists, highlighting his own personal experience with the FBI visiting his home and told FP, “This is not surprising.”

The FBI issued a report in May warning white supremacist violence was growing.
The FBI issued a report in May warning white supremacist violence was growing. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The FBI, which issued a report in May warning white supremacist violence was growing, identified BIE as a threat just nine days before far-right groups descended on Charlottesville.

President Trump was heavily criticized for his response after three people died, saying there were “fine people” on both sides.

 

Racial Disparities Panel Agenda

Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice
Systems Advisory Panel
Agenda

October 3rd, 2017, 6:00pm
 110 State Street, Montpelier

1)   Housekeeping
a.    Standing Date and location
b.    Extending
c.    Communication
d.    Administrative and professional support (Per diem)

2)   Guiding principlesa.
a. Community involvement (evening)
b.    Transparency and accountability
c.    Commitment (top involvement and training)
d.    Common Understanding (Blue Lives  Matter/ White supremacy)
e.    The system is the whole system (contractors – Statewide CJC Network, etc)

3)   Updates on Act 54 (standing agenda item)

4)   Public Comments (standing agenda item)

5)   AG Report Progress  – to committee (standing agenda item)

6)   Proposed Working Group Sessions – Discuss disparities in the Criminal Justice System and determine three most high impact / high discretion decision point.  Solicit public participation in each group.(standing agenda item)
a.    Law enforcement – De-escalation, Use of Force training policy and data collection
b.    Defender General
c.    States Attorneys
d.    Judges
e.    Corrections
f.     Community – Develop plan for education
g.    Horizontal – Data collection review, data collection, training and policy

7)   Recommendations to Legislature (standing agenda item)
a.    Public complaint process (all state government systems)
b.    Weather and how to implement racial profiling laws
c.    Expansion of data collection by law enforcement

Updates for the Start of Fall

Friends and supporters,

Here is a roundup on activities that are ongoing.

Monthly meetings
The monthly general meeting will be at the Unitarian Church, in Montpelier on Thursday, September 28th at 6:00 PM. In moving forward we will meet at the same place and time on the third Thursday of every month.

 

(H.308 ) Act 54

Racial Disparities Panel
The first meeting of The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems (created by H.308) happened on August 29th. The meeting was open to the general public. Attorney General T.J. Donavan gave passionate opening remarks and the Panel moved to appoint Christine Longmore as the Chair and Mark Hughes as the Vice Chair. The panel charge was reviewed and it was agreed that the Panel would meet in the evenings in moving forward to ensure that the general public has the ability to attend. There was a discussion on priorities and input and questions from the general public.  The next meeting is scheduled for October 3rd at 6:00 PM.  The meeting will be held in a conference room at 110 State in Montpelier, which houses the State’s Attorneys and Sheriff’s Department. It is located at the corner of Taylor Street and State Street, directly across from the Pavilion Building.  You can find the Panel membership and the Legislative charge to the Panel here.

Addressing Institutionalized Racism in other Systems
H.308 (The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile System Advisory Panel) calls for the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission and interested stakeholders to “develop a strategy to address racial disparities within the State systems of education, labor and employment, access to housing health care, and economic development.” There will be a meeting of Stakeholders at the Statehouse, in room 10, on September 28th from 2:00 till 4:00 PM. The goal of the meeting is to gather sufficient information to enable the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission to provide the Justice Oversight Committee with the requested strategy for moving forward in addressing racial disparities in these systems. The Stakeholders invitation with initial questions and stakeholder groups can be found here. The agenda to the meeting can be found here. The Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission are required to jointly report on the strategy to the Justice Oversight Committee on or before November 1, 2017.

Fair and Impartial Policing Policy
The Fair and Impartial Policing Policy has been updated “to the extent necessary to bring the policy into compliance with 8 U.S.C. §§ 1373 and 1644”. We will provide a copy of this policy when it becomes available. Work is currently underway to further update the policy to “provide one cohesive model policy for law enforcement agencies and constables to adopt as a part of the agency’s or constable’s own fair and impartial policing policy”. This is expected to be completed by by the close of the year. All agencies are expected to adopt a policy that includes the components of the model policy by March 1st, 2018.

 

We Need Your Support

Over this past years we have worked with coalition partners to successfully deliver the Vermont Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Law Enforcement Professional Regulation and the Act 54 (Racial Disparities Panel). Our work continues with numerous community outreach activities, Vermont Justice Coalition, the Racial Justice Reform Coalition and much more, but we need your help to continue.

Can you help us to continue the work of addressing systemic racism in the criminal justice system and beyond? Here are three quick ways that you can be a part of this work:

 

The NEW Poor People’s Campaign
Join us on the Poor People’s Campaign. Our next meeting (The Gathering) will be on October 1st at 5:30 PM at three locations:  The Workers Center in Burlington, The Old Labor Hall in Barre and The Root Social Justice Center, in Brattleboro. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. The Summer of 2017 through the Spring of 2018 will be used as the public launching of the Campaign. By engaging in highly publicized civil disobedience and direct action over a 6-week period in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia during the Spring of 2018, the Campaign will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism and poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation during a key election year while strengthening and connecting informed and committed grassroots leadership in every state, increasing their power to continue this fight long after June 2018. Vermont’s New Poor Peoples Campaign will focus on local issues relating to us as Vermonters and will serve as a vehicle for us to take the people’s agenda to the statehouse. Sign up here to get on the ACTION list for updates and mobilization. You can also message “PPCVT” to 444999 to join the text and email list as well.

This national movement picks up the campaign started by Dr. King and others in the last months of his life. The focus is on addressing:

1) Systemic racism
2) Systemic Poverty
3) Ecological Devastation
4) War Economy
5) Changing the Moral Narrative of the United States

This is a live-stream event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/188464115030264/

Thank you!

Don’t forget our monthly general meeting (every third Thursday) at the Unitarian Church, in Montpelier.

Thank you!

Mark Hughes,