African Americans Disproportionately Dying From COVID-19; Race Data Not Completely Public

The numbers are not all in (because once again, nobody thought to collect the data) but it is increasingly clear that African Americans are dying at highly disproportionate rates from COVID-19. These types of reports are coming in from Milwaukee, Michigan, Chicago, and North Carolina. In New Orleans a good number of the deaths are being reported out of Orleans Parish (40% black).

Have we forgotten that before the pandemic that we were already operating in a health system that delivers disparate outcomes to black folks? African Americans are much more likely to suffer from underlying conditions of heart disease, hypertension, asthma high blood pressure and HIV?  With median wealth disparities already at 13:1 (white/black), it shouldn’t be hard to understand why blacks are underinsured, underemployed, more likely to work in service industries (essential workers) and less likely to be able to work form home.

The CDC, which usually reports detailed data on outbreaks is silent on reporting racially, disaggregated data on COVID-19.  Last week four United States Senators and Representatives called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to release race disaggregated data on the COVID-19.  No numbers have been released to date. Yesterday we asked the Vermont Health Department to release racially disaggregated data on COVID-19 No response.

Our elected and appointed officials know the devastating adverse economic impact that centuries of systemic racism has dealt black people in the United States.  Justice For All has never missed an opportunity to educate them and remind them.  We have been doing outreach and education on systemic racism in Vermont for the last five years.  In Vermont, the Attorney General and Human Rights Commission authored a report acknowledging the impacts of systemic racism across all State systems of government in 2017.  The CDC and our Health Departments have made it abundantly clear that the aforementioned underlying conditions likely will lead to fatal outcomes.  Science tells us that the data should be collected.  Wisdom tells us that our national and statewide emergency response to COVID-19 must include a plan to provide increased protection and relief for African Americans.  Common senses should tell us that to do nothing is tantamount an acceleration of modern day genocide.

We must avoid our natural desire to embrace the anecdotal assertion that this is merely a class issue – it is that and more!  We have known that systemic racism has and continues to adversely impact African Americans across all sectors and we now see them dying of COVID-19 at highly disproportionate rates. We call on the Health Commissioner to collect and make public disaggregated COVID-19 data.  We call on the Governor to create an Emergency Task Force to address COVID-19 impact on African Americans in Vermont.  Legislators, look at the data that is emerging nationally in light of the underlying impact of systemic racism in the United States and Vermont.  You must develop policies that include medical, community outreach and education and economic relief approaches that provide immediate enhanced protection to Vermont African Americans and ensure that this work is sustainable in moving forward.

Updates, COVID-19 and More

Our Work Continues
The work that Justice For All has always involved and continues to be dismantling the root causes of systemic racism, the elimination of poverty and addressing the impacts presented to black and brown and poor people on a daily basis.  Systemic racism and poverty are at the heart of the source of COVID-19 and unfortunately these vulnerable demographics are among the chief benefactors of the the most severe impact of the pandemic. Today all of the disparities associated with systemic racism and poverty are being simultaneously exacerbated.

The additional time and attention required for black and brown and poor people to ensure safety, security and basic needs leave little time to acquire vital information or engage community, organizations and far less government.  It stands to reason that from this position of preexisting disadvantage, impacted communities are struggling with employment, housing, education, health services access and the challenges with the justice system at much higher rates with exponentially more severe impact.   It is for this reason that the work that we do is more important than ever.  We are incredibly busy monitoring national, state and local developments on and responses to the pandemic, as well as the impact on constituent communities. 

Access to Government, Civic Duties and Public Meetings

One of the challenges that have been identified is the absence of information on ongoing government emergency operations, information on access to public meetings, and the political process. Being connected to, monitoring and participating in the democratic process are now more important than ever.  Emerging are facilities and protocols that are increasingly enabling community members visibility and in some cases the ability to provide input.  Here are some sources that you can use to stay informed and get engaged.

Vermont Governor’s Executive Orders and Press Releases
https://governor.vermont.gov/document-types/executive-orders
https://governor.vermont.gov/press_releases

Vermont Legislature
https://legislature.vermont.gov/
House – https://www.vpr.org/#stream/5
Senate – https://www.vpr.org/#stream/6

Vermont Judiciary
https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/news/information-regarding-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-and-court-operations

Burlington City Council
https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/CityCouncil

Updates on the Statutes of the COVID-19 Pandemic
 
Here are some resources to provide the latest information, guidance and updates on the COVD-19 pandemic.
 
Latest CDC Guidance
https://bit.ly/39cXsWV
 
Latest Vermont Department of Health Guidance
https://bit.ly/3bhO9Gv
 
Burlington COVID-19 Update Page
https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/covid-19
 
Worldometer – A team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available around the world.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
 
NY Times Updates
https://nyti.ms/2ww1Kv7
 
Vermont Digger Updates
https://bit.ly/2U9R0LV

What is the Government Doing?

The Vermont State legislature has been working on a series of actions that will address updating unemployment insurance, establishing emergency medical protocols, authorizing remote open meetings, providing temporary elections procedures and extending vehicle registration deadlines.  All of these and the Senate Committees remote voting authorization were passed by the Senate this morning. The House will convene tomorrow to take up this emergency package. You can find more on the ongoing work of the legislature at the site above.  The United States legislature has passed legislation that covers unemployment insurance, paid family leave, the SNAP program and Coronavirus testing.  Pending in the United Stets legislature is a 2T bill that would provide direct payments, loan deferrals and business tax relief and bailouts. All of this work is continues to unfold.

Action Corner

  1. Calls for the Release of the of Selected Individuals Incarcerated and Detained Pretrial 
    This week we signed off on a letter From the ACLU, regarding the release of selected individuals incarcerated and detained pre-trial, to ensure public health and safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The letter states “Vermont has days, not weeks, to take meaningful preventive action.” Prisons across the country are releasing pretrial and vulnerable nonviolent folks to reduce the risk of mass outbreaks in our nation’s corrections system.  Our state could do the same with a simple Executive Order.  It is hugely important that we take immediate action here.  We have a problem that we see will indeed turn into a major issue and there are literally hundreds of both those who are incarcerated and those who work in the corrections system who’s health and safety are on the line.  Please call the the Governor now (828-3333) and ask him to sign the order and let them go.  Email the Governor here.
     
  2. Calls for Eviction Moratorium
    On Wednesday, March 18, the Trump administration announced a moratorium on evictions of single-family homeowners with federally backed mortgages. The moratorium does not apply to the vast majority of renters.  Though Vermont courts say that the “consensus” is that judges will not be taking up eviction cases as a priority, judges still retain discretion to take up evictions under “emergency” circumstances and there is no mechanism that otherwise stops any ongoing (or future) eviction.  Vermont Digger cited that for now, “the Scott administration is not calling for a statewide eviction moratorium, saying housing subsidies are more urgently needed as a measure to prevent homelessness during the outbreak.”  This is not good enough.  No one should ever have to worry about losing his or her home, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.  Now more than ever is a time to care for the most vulnerable.    Please call the the Governor now (828-3333) and ask him to sign an Executive Order placing a moratorium on all evictions. Email the Governor here
     
  3. Elections and Open Meetings Laws
    The Vermont Senate today passed Temporary Elections and Open Meeting Law emergency provisions.  The elections provisions waive signature collection process for placement onto the ballot, require mail-in ballots and provide for various extensions amongst other changes.  The open meetings provisions state that local  governments should meet electronically and provide public access, allow a quorum or more to attend electronically and states that information on how to access the meeting shall be made public.  It is incredibly important that all Vermonters are notified of these changes and of future on-line meetings.  This must be done accommodating technology and language accessibility disparities in communities of color and those who are underserved.  Please request that House amend the COVID-19 Emergency bill with language that states that Voters shall be notified of elections law changes and municipality on-line meetings through United States Postal Service (USPS) or other means and language translations shall be made available. Send the House Government Operations Committee (and leadership) a message at this address:  vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com

Contact your legislator to express your thoughts on any of these issues.  Find your legislator here.

From the Director
Our analysis is complete and our demands are the same – dismantle systemic racism and eliminate poverty.  In everything that we do in moving forward we must create a permanent paradigm shift in beliefs and policy. We do not want a return to the malignant, violent system that through greed has oppressed so many for so long.   Nor do we care to replace it with a broken system that uses the remnants of white English colonialism to prop up an oppressive government. Now is an opportunity for us to change the heart and soul of this nation. This is a time when our civil liberties are art risk more than ever.  We must continue the work and challenge the system at all levels.  Stay busy, encouraged, healthy and connected.  This is not a time for retreat.  It is a time to stand!

Stand with Justice For All 
CLICK here!

Become a member? 

Mark Hughes,
Executive Director, Justice For All
mark@justiceforallvt.org
t @Mark_A_Hughes
I Mark.A.Hughes
802.532.3030
http://justiceforallvt.org/

Environmental Justice For the Champlain Parkway

Mr. Kenneth Sikora, Jr. Environmental Program Manager , Mr. Wayne Davis Project Supervisor Vermont Agency of Transportation and all concerned,

This memo is in directed to you out of serious concern surrounding the community engagement process and and the fatally flawed environmental justice review of Champlain Parkway Project. We find it difficult to believe that this $47M highway construction project is moving towards implementation, given this new plan to route traffic across Pine Street, directly through the Maple/King Street neighborhood, the most racially diverse community in Burlington, save the Old North End! We feel that communities of color should have been afforded sufficient opportunity to be a part of discussions on this matter. 

Further, it is unacceptable that draconian environmental justice processes are being used as a part of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on a project with such far-reaching implications.  It is our hope that this project is brought to an immediate and indefinite halt that serious consideration may be given to the vast racial demographic and socioeconomic changes happening in Burlington since these plans began and the adverse and disproportionate impact that this project has on one of the most diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in Burlington. 

Most disturbing is that this project blatantly protects white affluent communities at the expense of the health and prosperity of black and brown and poor communities (traffic, pollution and property values).  It ignores the fact that the superfund site exists because of the white capitalist greed and is complicit at best in the unwillingness to do what so clearly best for all in addressing the mitigation of the superfund site in conjunction with (or as a condition for) this project. Instead of cleaning the site, the decision has been made instead to run a highway through the middle of the second most diverse community in Burlington? This is wrong. 

As the racial demographics of our State continue to change, we owe it to ourselves both morally and economically to create and maintain an environment where black, brown and poor people are safe and made to be able to prosper. We can do better and we must do it now. Stop the project and include the impacted community in planning.

Respectfully,

Mark Hughes
ED, Justice For All
Coordinator, Vermont Racial Justice Alliance 
e: mark@justiceforallvt.org
t: @Mark_A_Hughesm: 802.532.3030

Game on!

GAME ON! Oct 27th!

The season is changing but we’re not.

Bring your games, some snacks (or drinks) and the kids. We’ll bring the fun. Comment below if you have any game ideas or other fun proposals.

We’re doing this EVERY 4th Sunday of the month.

First Congregational Church
38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington
3:00 PM till 6:00 PM

Happy 5th Birthday JFA!

JUSTICE FOR ALL BIRTHDAY PARTY with
THE DAVE KELLER BAND
OCT 19, 2019
6:00 PM till 9:00 PM 

You are invited to join us in celebrating Justice For All’s 5th BIRTHDAY!  That’s right; five years ago we started with a mission focused on addressing racial disparities in law enforcement.  This has taken us on an incredible journey.  We have had hundreds of engagements with communities, providing outreach and education on systemic racism across Vermont.  Our policy work (with our partners) at the State and local levels has produced unprecedented and impactful change.  Come out and celebrate with us and hear what’s next.   Don’t miss the Community Chili Cook Off (with prizes), Karaoke contest, games. We’re also going to unveil JFA 4.0. Pst. shhh.. there’s going to be a surprise special guest.

Please bring perishables and can goods for the donations to the Chittenden Food Shelf.

Cash Birthday gifts can be made here
Gifts collected are to offset the expenses of the fun.

 

October Film Viewing


Film Viewing:  Fruitvale Station
Oct 13, 2019

3:00 PM till 6:00 PM
First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington

This is the true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air.  
Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant.

October Update

A warm greeting to all, as we enter into the fall season. 

This week I stopped to reflect with great pride on some of our accomplishments.  We have hosted literally hundreds of community forums and events and participated in many others; conducted countless hours of deep analysis; built coalitions and alliances to move unprecedented policy, and advanced the narrative to a discussion on systemic racism across all systems (housing, education, employment, etc.…). What we did next was a game changer! In 2017, Act 54 resulted in the creation of a racial disparities justice system panel (still working).  It also produced a task force, which cited systemic racism as the as the cause for disparities in all systems. Act 9 in 2018 created the position of a Statewide Executive Director of Racial Equity and associated panel, both charged with “mitigating systemic racism”.

Our work has recently turned to Burlington where we have had numerous outreach and education events, including Game On, film viewings and the ongoing “Equity Series”.  JFA was instrumental in the passage of a Burlington Resolution that requires the BPD to provide use of force data to the Police Commission on an annual basis.  We also recommended and provided consultation on the passage of a Burlington Resolution that established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Standing Committee as well as a DEI Director that reports to the Mayor.

In coordination with the Racial Justice Alliance we co-hosted the First Annual First African Landing Vermont Commemoration where the new Racial Equity Executive Director Delivered a Proclamation from the Governor, decreeing that the date be recognized annually.  The event was a great success.  We will continue to explore opportunities to offer outreach events that support the 400 Years of African American History Commission’s mission to educate community on the resilience and contributions of African Americans.

There has been good progress in growing the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance (VRJA), an alliance founded by JFA for the purpose of legislative work.  In preparation for the upcoming legislative session I am working in coordination with VRJA members and legislators to ensure our success.  You can see updates on the VRJA, including the  numerous forums and panels that are being scheduled to discuss systemic racism and poverty, use of force, the constitutional amendment, reparations and more here. It is our hope that output from these sessions will inform the legislative process.  Beyond the legislative agenda are numerous other bills that we are monitoring

In 2014, I began to become woke as I heard the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Lequan McDonald, Tamir Rice and many others.  I committed to do something meaningful and impactful to address the problem.  Over the past five years we have made an impact in Vermont and our work is being modeled in other states.  As the work of Justice For All has been increasingly focusing on addressing the root causes and impacts of systemic racism and poverty, we’re changing.  We’ll tell you about our new direction at our Birthday Party on the 19th.  Thank you for supporting this vitally important work in such a time as this.  We wouldn’t be able to do it, were it not for the many folks like you who hold us up and show up for the work. Your gifts provide immediate impact on this work  Please click button below to securely provide your financial support. 

Respectfully,

Mark Hughes
Executive Director
Justice For All

Give a Gift TODAY

Thanks for giving

The work that we are doing has a sense of urgency and we need your money to make it happen. You can read here about all of the important work that we are doing but click below to securely and immediately put your money to work as we continue our focus on eliminating systemic racism and addressing racial equity.

Click Here To Provide a Gift

Thank you for supporting this vitally important work in such a time as this.  We wouldn’t be able to do it, were it not for the many folks like you who hold us up and show up for the work. Your gifts provide immediate impact on this work.  Please click button below to securely provide your financial support. 

Click Here To Provide a Gift

We founded the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance to support the work of the legislative agenda. Look here to see the work we are doing there.

…We’ll see you at the Party

The JFA Birthday Party Facebook Event is here

Click Here To Provide a Gift

W.E.L.L. Update August 2, 2019

Happy August

All here is the fourth in a series of updates on What Equity Looks Like.  If you have missed any of the updates, you can see them on our site, at www.justiceforallvt.org or on the site of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, at www.vtracialjusticealliance.wordpress.com.  In case you missed it, right around the corner is “What We Are Doing About Equity in Burlington”, August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.

News Flash

Xusana Davis, the Racial Equity Executive Director, appointed as a result of the legislative mandate of Act 9 (2018) is completing her first week on the job.  This is the position that Beth Fastiggi spoke of when she briefed us at the W.E.L.L. meeting last month.  Our hope is to invite Xusana to one of our meetings at some point in the near future.

Equity Highlight

Equity in Affordable Housing

Our Affordable Housing Group reported out that the lack of affordable housing is a “serious national and local issue” that impacts a large percentage of the population.  They made the assumption that “racism is a block for people accessing housing”.  Finally it was agreed that there is a definite connection to wages and the so-called affordable housing that does exist is largely of poor quality.  Licensing the landlords to improve housing quality and implementing progressive taxation based on property value were amongst the suggested solutions that the group fleshed out. With what they believed to be as many as 85% of voters holding this issue as a priority, this work is sure to be ongoing.  Shout out to the Affordable Housing Group for starting this work.

Upcoming Events

Here are a few things that are happening between now and our next meeting.  Click on the links for times and locations.


First African Landing Vermont
 
On August 24th, from 1:00 till 4:00 PM, at North End Studios, Studio A, 294 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington we will commemorate First African Landing Day. This commemoration serves to recognize the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in 1619. It will feature a commemorative ceremony, food, storytelling, dance, drumming, musical performances, and more. This First African Landing Commemorative Day will offer an opportunity for those who are interested in learning about the heritage, struggles and triumphs of the first Africans who were brought to the shores of what would become the United States.  Find out how you can become a supporter or sponsor or register for the commemoration here.

Please Help us Continue This Work 

We are free conduct outreach and education and provide advocacy but providing them is not free.  Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here.
CLICK here!

Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?

W.E.L.L. Update July 26, 2019

 Hello all,

Here is your weekly What Equity Looks Like (W.E.L.L.) in Burlington update.

Our next meeting, “What You Are Doing About Equity in Burlington” will be August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.  The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Meeting will precede this meeting (5:00pm), at the same location.  As indicated last week, we are providing weekly highlights from the initial W.E.L.L. breakout sessions.

Todays highlight is the Justice System. 

Equity Highlight

Equity in the Justice System

The breakout group on the justice system was the liveliest of our group discussions in our W.E.L.L. session on July 9th. The need to collect race data system wide and establish an independent complaint system was among the suggestions discussed amongst the group.  Community members also suggested the need to increasingly have those difficult (race related) conversations and stressed the importance of attending Police Commission meetings.   Some other topics included decriminalizing minor offenses and working to change policing culture and the manner in which they train. Thanks to the W.E.L.L. Justice System Group for their work.  We’ll continue to track this work and keep you updated.   

I chatted with our Chief of Police, Brandon del Pozo, today on JFA TV about what equity looks like in BPD.  The interview will be released sometime next week on Channel 17.  Please take the time to find the conversation.

Are you interested in hanging out and playing board games?  We do it every 4th Sunday, from 3:00pm till 6:00pm.  Will we see you on July 28?  Check herefor details.  Also Our monthly Film Screening happens on the 2nd Sunday, every month from 3:00 till 6:00pm.  Come join us on August 11th as we share “Against All Odds” as we continue to do the work at the intersection of systemic racism and poverty.

Don’t forget to provide feedback on your experience at the W.E.L.L. event July 9th

Finally, can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here: CLICK here and help us do the work

 Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?