Latest on Racial Justice Reform Bill H.492 and S.116

All,

H.492, “An Act relating to Racial Justice Oversight Board” and H.523 (Fair and Impartial Policing) were both advanced to a third reading in the House yesterday.  They are both expected to be voted out of the House today.   S.116 has completed testimony in Senate Judiciary and mark-up of the bill will will start this morning at 10:30 AM.  Please Show up!

Date:  Thursday, April 13th

Time: 10:30 AM
Place: Vermont State House – (Senate Judiciary)  (See this map.)
Bring: Download and print a copy of this #racialjusticereformvt placard to bring with you to the statehouse to show your support!
Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/893687194105946/

Here are some other things you can do:

The S.116 Petition is still extremely important!   It sends and email to everyone under the dome with each signature.
Petition for S.116  

You can still call the Sergeant at Arms and leave a message for your legislative delegation and expressing your support for H492 and S.116: 802-828-2228  You can also send an email: jmiller@leg.state.vt.us

Send a message to the Senate Judiciary Committee  expressing your support for S.116 – vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com

Mail a postcard to your Senators and ask them to vote yes for S.116. Find them here: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people

Reminder about this evening:

The Racial Justice Reform Coalition and S.116 Sponsors will be hosting a film viewing of “13th” this evening.   Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

Date:  Thursday , April 13th
Time: 5:30 AM
Place: Vermont State House – (Room 11)  (See this map.)
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/287770841660894/

Later in the evening, we’ll be off to Sweet Melissa’s because it’s time to “Move Forward” with racial justice reform in Vermont. The state is positioned for success with the first racial justice reform legislation in history! You need to be here and show your support for our state leading the nation with racial justice. We’re almost there folks. Let’s move this bill forward and let’s celebrate!

Date: Thursday, April 13th
Time: 9:30 PM
Place: Sweet Melissa’s
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/795246720643590/

 

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.

#racialjusticereformvt

Thank you for your support!

Mark Hughes
Justice For All

Peoples’s Climate March in Vermont and DC

Dearest friends and allies,

Note:  For those who can’t make the DC trip, we are marching in Vermont:  https://www.facebook.com/events/367275330323732/

Over two years ago, a giant climate march enveloped New York City and over 2,000 Vermonters were a part of that beautiful and important day. We brought our families, our instruments, our hand-made signs, our song books, and our cries for change! It was beautiful, fun, and impactful. Were you there? Or have you heard the stories?

And now, we are called to gather again. This time in Washington DC. April 29th. This time it will be different – the stakes are higher, the opposition is uglier, and perhaps our hearts are heavier. Can you help us grow this beautiful resistance and share this invitation with your networks, friends, and families? Who is waiting for your warm invitation to join this growing movement of movements?

Subject: You’re invited to rise, resist, and build!

As many of you know, climate change is an issue that affects us all, but also makes worse the injustices that we face in our communities – economic, racial, and social. I am extremely concerned about the rapid pace of global warming and the impacts that has on so many people across the world, from droughts and famine, to wildfires and other climate-provoked disasters, to floods and severe storms. Even in Vermont, we see effects like increases in ticks and Lyme’s, Tropical Storm Irene, and irregular weather.

What can one do? I choose to be active and take a stand! Please consider joining me and 350Vermont as we head to Washington DC for the People’s Climate March on April 29th. The Trump administration is rolling back even the modest attempts to curb climate change, so it’s time to register our dissent! 350Vermont is organizing buses so it is easy and inexpensive to get to Washington DC for this march. More info is here: http://350vermont.org/peoples-climate-march-2017/

Itinerary:

Buses leave Vermont, multiple locations  (New red eye buses on Friday night too!).

Find lodging in Washington DC: https://peoplesclimate.org/housing/

Indigenous Sunrise Water Ceremony, 6am Saturday

Climate March and Circle the White House, 12:30pm

Rally at Washington Monument, 3pm

Saturday evening buses return to VT

We acknowledge that traveling to DC is a privilege for those who have the ability, means (scholarships available!), and safety to do so. If you are bound to Vermont, we invite you to join the sister march in Montpelier and the May Day March for Dignity with Migrant Justice on Monday May 1.

P.s. There are more waters rising, and they will find there way to us, but we will wade through the waters together, figuratively and literally. Listen here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWWLzAlADVY

House Judiciary Passes H.492; Opening Testimony on S.116 Senate Judiciary

All,

H.492, “An Act relating to Racial Justice Oversight Board”, was voted out of House Judiciary yesterday and is due to go to the House floor for debate on Tuesday.  The Fair and Impartial Policing component that was decoupled from the bill was taken on as a Committee Bill and voted out of House Judiciary today.  Meanwhile, S.116 has been taken from the Senate Judiciary wall and we start testimony on this bill starting at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Please Show up tomorrow!

Date:Friday, April 7th
Time: 9:00 AM
Place: Vermont State House – (Senate Judiciary)  (See this map.)
Bring: Download and print a copy of this #racialjusticereformvt placard to bring with you to the statehouse to show your support!
Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/893687194105946/

Here are some other things you can do:

If you have not signed these petitions, they are still very important.  They continue to notify everyone under the dome with each signature.
Petition for H.492
Petition for S.116  

Call the Sergeant at Arms and leave a message for your legislative delegation and/or the House Judiciary expressing your support for H492 and S.116: 802-828-2228  You can also send an email: jmiller@leg.state.vt.us

Send a message to the Senate Judiciary Committee  expressing your support for S.116 – vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com

Mail a postcard to your representative and ask them to vote yes Tuesday for H.492. Find them here: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people

Wait, there’s more!  The Racial Justice Reform Coalition and S.116 Sponsors will be hosting a film viewing of “13th”   Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

Date:Thursday , April 13th
Time: 5:30 AM
Place: Vermont State House – (Room 11)  (See this map.)

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.

#racialjusticereformvt

Thank you for your support!

Mark Hughes
Justice For All

H492 is Voted out of House Judiciary

 

PRESS RELEASE:

For immediate Release:

Montpelier, Vermont April 5, 2017 – Today H.492, “An Act relating to Racial Justice Oversight Board”, was voted out of House Judiciary.

The bill, introduced by Justice For All and a Coalition of 29 Vermont organizations calls for a 15 member board organized within the office of the Attorney General and will undertake an ongoing review of racial justice reform across the State, including within the systems of education, labor and employment, housing, health care, economic development, and criminal and juvenile justice. The board is expected to do so by monitoring the collection and publication of race-based data, recommending policies and trainings to address systemic implicit bias, and evaluating racial justice policies, practices, and results statewide.

“This is Vermont, making history again”, said Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For, the lead organization of the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, “it is morally right and legally possible”. The bill is expected to swiftly move through the House and the Senate has called for hearings as early as Friday.
###

About Justice For All

Justice for All is a Vermont-based, racial justice organization that pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship building.

 

Contact Information

Mark Hughes Executive Director, Justice For All
mark@justiceforallvt.org
w: justiceforallvt.org
t: @Justice4All
o: (802) 532-3030

H.492 Update – 2 April 2017

Last week, we made you aware of an impasse that we were experiencing due to pushback from law enforcement lobbyists.   The following day, coalition member, Partners for Fairness and Diversity (Curitss Reed) unilaterally worked with bill sponsors to modify the bill.   The coalition was unaware that such discussions were taking place.   Among other things, the changes that were incorporated decouple Fair and Impartial Policing from H.492 and remove significant language that was designed to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement.  Partners for Fairness and Diversity is no longer a member of the Racial Justice Reform Coalition.

Among other things, the modifications that were incorporated decouple Fair and Impartial Policing from H.492 and remove significant language that was designed to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement. The primary scope has moved from addressing the criminal justice system to one that is more global in nature (which the Pro Tempe President and Senate Judiciary Chair advised against in our initial discussions). Further, “areas of expertise” have been incorporated as qualifications for people of color to participate. Partners For Fairness and Diversity are now requesting resumes for these positions. The Racial Justice Reform Coalition has no involvement in this effort.

We owe it to ourselves to ensure that the creation of a Racial Justice Reform Board produces both a credible and legitimate outcome to address racial justice in the state. The involvement of an organization with a longstanding contractual relationship with the state in this legislative process has already began to cast doubt surrounding the legitimacy of the outcome of this process. I have consulted with Migrant Justice, Community Council of Accountability with Law Enforcement Officials, Black Lives Matter Vermont and the Champlain Valley Chapter of the NAACP and we agreed to remove Partners for Fairness and Diversity from the Racial Justice Reform Coalition.

The priority of the original intent of this bill was to enable the legislature to better monitor the work that is being done by law enforcement to address implicit bias and; provide recommendations and monitoring for future expansions of this work into the remainder of the criminal justice system. I will continue to work to restore the primary scope of the bill to address the criminal justice system.   We have all seen real data that reveals disparities and reports indicate that the problem has worsened. The House Judiciary Committee is anticipated to call H.492 to a vote on Tuesday. We will therefore be unable to request any additional changes to this bill until it reaches the Senate. Many people have invested so much in crafting and advocating for this, which is by far the most significant legislative attempt to address racial justice in Vermont history!

Here is how you can help. Continue to stand with the Racial Justice Reform Coalition as we push for legislative change. Remind your legislators and constituents of the importance of addressing the criminal justice system first.  Be present on Tuesday in House Judiciary to witness the final deliberations and and vote.  It is not clear what time this will happen, if it happens at all as law enforcement continues to push back.

Respectfully,

Mark A. Hughes,
ED, JFA

#RacialJusticeReformVT

Black Lives Matter Vermont Rallies in Winooski

Dozens took to the streets of Winooski Sunday afternoon to support Black Lives Matter Vermont.

Source: Black Lives Matter Vermont Rallies in Winooski

WINOOSKI, Vt. – Dozens took to the streets of Winooski Sunday afternoon to support Black Lives Matter Vermont.

Rally-goers got together at Shop 4 Change to make posters, then lined up along Main Street before marching downtown.

Organizers say it’s all about doing outreach to let the community know about racial disparities in Vermont.

“When it comes to school suspensions and expulsions, when it comes to drivers that are pulled over, and also sentencing in the justice system. And also representation in various levels of school governance and state governance,” said Jabari Jones, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Vermont.

Right now, local social justice groups are crafting a bill that would establish a racial justice oversight board.

Leaders say this board would look at racial disparities and correct them at the state level.

H.492 Racial Justice Reform Bill Update

 

All,

This week has been both productive and frustrating in the statehouse. We have made multiple changes to H.492 in response to law enforcement’s concerns surrounding “language in the bill”. Today we returned to House Judiciary to provide a version of the bill that we thought was acceptable to law enforcement. No one from law enforcement showed up.   They have not suggested any alternative language and they are suggesting that this bill be referred to a summer study. As a result, the Chair is reluctant to bring the bill to a vote so the bill is at an impasse.

Law enforcement has high-jacked the first racial justice bill in Vermont history. This is not a law enforcement issue; it is a racial justice issue. The purpose of this bill is to provide transparency and accountability to the processes currently mandated by statute to address implicit bias and to continue the deployment of these processes across the remainder of the criminal justice system. Only then can we begin the process of addressing similar challenges in the employment, housing, education, health services systems.

Article 5 of the Vermont Constitution states that “the people of this state by their legal representatives have the sole, inherent, and exclusive right of governing and regulating the internal police of the same.” Article 7 of the Vermont Constitution states that “government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal”

Vermont started some of the legislative work to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system in 2012. In spite of the implementation of data collection, training and policy, the data indicate that the problem has worsened in Vermont and in some ways we are the worst in the nation! President Trump’s selection of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and his issuance of three “tough-on-crime” Executive Orders add even more of a sense of urgency to address racial disparities in Vermont.

The Racial Justice Reform Coalition is comprised of 30 organizations that stand in unity in support of racial justice reform in Vermont.   Hundreds of people have signed petitions and called and emailed our legislature in support of racial justice reform. Dozens of supporters have taken time off from work and showed up in spite of the fluid and unpredictable House Floor schedule. Leadership from both the House and Senate has publicly expressed their support for the Racial Justice Oversight Board called for in H.492. The Attorney General has supported H.492 from the beginning of this process. Racial Justice in Vermont must be undertaken with the same moral compass and sense of urgency as that of immigrant justice (S.79), at a minimum to ensure Justice For All in Vermont.

The Racial Justice Reform Coalition will conduct a meeting at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier at 1:00 on Thursday, March 30th to evaluate our position and consider action moving forward. The next day we will be engaging the wider community at the Halftime Community Round-up Potluck in the same location (5:30 Friday, March 31st) and getting everybody up to speed on where we go from here.

 

Mark A. Hughes, Executive Director
Justice For All

Testimony on H.492 Continues


 Tabitha Pohl-Moore Testifies Racial Justice Reform Bill (H.492)

Thanks to EVERYONE who attended the testimony yesterday.  It was a record turnout for the session!  It is very important that we maintain a sustained presence in the statehouse to ensure that our voices are heard on this historic bill

We just found out this morning that testimony on H.492 will continue 15 minutes after the House leaves the floor today!   We are asking EVERYONE to descend on the statehouse at 1:30 TODAY and join us in the House Judiciary for testimony.

Also go to racialjusticereformomnibusbillvt.wordpress.com and do all the things!

1) Sign the petitions that call for the adoption of these bills.  Your signature alerts all members of the legislature:

Petition for H.492
Petition for S.116

Also, we know many of you have already done so but if not please disseminate the following to your networks:

2)  Testify!  Here is a form where you can submit your testimony. H.492 Testimony Submission Form
3)  Call the Sergeant at Arms and leave a message for your legislative delegation and/or the House Judiciary expressing your support for H492 and S.116:   802-828-2228
You can also send an email: jmiller@leg.state.vt.us

4)  Send a message to the Judiciary Committee of each chamber expressing your support.

House Judiciary (H.492) – vermont-house-judiciary@googlegroups.com
Senate Judiciary (S.116) – vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com

FAQs on the bill can be found here

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.

How you can Support Racial Justice Reform in Vermont

Help Vermont make history by passing The Racial Justice Reform Bill. This bill creates a racial justice reform oversight board. The board would manage the implementation of practices that mitigate institutionalized racism.

If you want to learn more about the bill, keep reading! If you want to know how you can support it, either in person or from your house, please jump to the bottom!

With the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and top leader of our Department of Justice, a man who has been systematically attacking civil rights across the span of his more than 30 year career, and Donald Trump instructing him to “crack down on crime” and create a plan to end violence against police officers, despite FBI data reports that crime rates have been falling consistently since the 1990’s, the time to act is NOW. Trump has vowed to turn his back on community oriented policing strategies that seek to heal divides and restore trust between communities and law enforcement in favor of unconstitutional policies such as “stop and frisk.” He additionally calls for the ceasing of federal investigations of departments that are under scrutiny for abuse of power and discrimination, once again leaving African Americans vulnerable and at risk of mistreatment.

But we say, not in Vermont. Not this time. Right now Vermont is poised to enact legislation for racial justice reform that is simply unprecedented in our state. Yes we are a small, majority white state, but racial disparities exist and they are just as real and just as toxic as anywhere else in this nation. African American drivers are stopped at 5 TIMES the rate of white drivers in Vermont and are more likely to be searched, yet are found to be in possession of contraband LESS frequently than whites. This is not a policing issue, this is an implicit bias issue resulting from a culture that we are all steeped in from the day we are born. This implicit bias is the root cause of the systemic racism that creates disparities in our systems across the board. And the only way to fix it is to see it, to call it by name, and be brave enough to stand up and say, yes this is a problem and we must meet it head on.

H.492 (S.116) seeks to do exactly that. This legislation, the very first of its kind in our brave little state, in fact the most sweeping attempt to bring racial justice out into the light in our history, will establish a Racial Justice Oversight Board to start addressing these issues. With 12 appointed members, housed under the office of Vermont’s attorney general, this board will tackle the difficult questions of disparate treatment of people of color in this state and make recommendations using the most cutting edge and proven tools and strategies of our time. Vermont has always led the forward march to recognition and equality for all, we can get on the right side of history and we can do it now.

Please, lets get this bill crossed over into the next phase of the legislation session. We have LESS THAN ONE WEEK to make this happen. Sign the petitions, call your legislators, send e-mails, attend the press conference, RALLY with us! Black LivesMatter! #racialjusticereformvt

DIRECT ACTION IN PERSON

1) Come to the press conference on Wednesday March 15th @ 10 AM in the Cedar Creek Room at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Get more information at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1211312735654917/

2) Come to the Racial Justice Rally on Thursday March 16th @ 6pm on the Statehouse steps. Get more information at:
 https://www.facebook.com/events/1877620885849487/

3) Come to a Conversation with Bernie Sanders about Racial Justice in Vermont Friday March 17th @ 5pm at Vermont Technical College. Get more information at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1877620885849487/

DIRECT ACTION FROM HOME

1) Sign the petition that calls for the adoption of these bills. Your signature alerts all members of the legislature:Petition for H.492
Petition for S.116

2) Call the Sergeant at Arms and leave a message for your legislative delegation and/or the House Judiciary expressing your support for H492 and S116 at 802-828-2228        *see the paragraph above to guide what you could say to her
 
3) Send a message to the Judiciary Committee of each chamber expressing your support
House Judiciary (H.492) – vermont-house-judiciary@googlegroups.com
Senate Judiciary (S.116) – vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com

4)  Mail a postcard to your legislator. Find them here:
http://legislature.vermont.gov/people

5) Forward the email to your networks and share this information on Facebook and by word of mouth!

Racial Justice Reform Resources H.492 and S.116

We will be housing a collection of resources here to assist in communicating the importance of this unprecedented racial justice Vermont bill.

We thought you might want to have all of the weeks activities in one place– Cross Over Week Event Flyer 

Here is flyer discussing actions that can be taken on H.492

Take a look at this pamphlet with background and discussion on legislation – JFA FIP Handout

This document provides some analysis of the bill – Racial Justice Reform Bill – Analysis

If you have questions, here are some of the answers – Racial justice Reform Bill – FAQs

Example of a Front Porch Forum Posting

It is now more important than ever that Vermonters stand up for Black Lives! H.492 (S.116) seeks to do exactly that. This legislation, the very first of its kind in our brave little state, in fact the most sweeping attempt to bring racial justice out into the light in our history, will establish a Racial Justice Oversight Board to start addressing issues of implicit bias and racial disparities in our system. With 12 appointed members, housed under the office of Vermont’s attorney general, this board will tackle the difficult questions of disparate treatment of racial minorities in this state and make recommendations using the most cutting edge and proven tools and strategies of our time. Vermont has always led the forward march to recognition and equality for all, we can get on the right side of history and we can do it now.

Please, lets get this bill crossed over into the next phase of the legislation session. We have just ONE WEEK to make this happen. Sign the petitions, call your legislators, send e-mails, attend the press conference, RALLY with us!

Monday March 13: H.492 celebration and phone bank https://www.facebook.com/events/209842729497047/

Wednesday March 15: Press Conference https://www.facebook.com/events/1211312735654917/

Thursday March 16: Rally for Racial Justice NOW! https://www.facebook.com/events/1877620885849487/

Friday March 17: Racial Justice Discussion after Bernie Sanders talk https://www.facebook.com/events/181126995722798/

Thank you all!