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 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 the black, brown people and poor 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 

O.N.E Community Center
20 Allen Street, Burlington

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?

W.E.L.L. Update July 19, 2019

 Hello all,

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

The Racial Equity Resolution was passed by City Council on Monday, July 15th. The Resolution creates a standing Committee and a full time position (that reports to the Mayor) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This is what equity looks like!

Our next meeting, “What We 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.  As indicated last week, we are providing weekly highlights from the initial W.E.L.L. breakout sessions. Todays highlight is on education.

Equity Highlight

Equity on Education 

A concern reported by the breakout group on education was that of a need for effective guidance and counseling processes.  Here, our team spoke in terms of a “high-school-to-college process” and stressed the importance of financial aid, role models and follow-up polices.  Progressive administrative follow-up was proposed as an important area to be addressed.  This included post college professional development; the tracking of student transitional developments; employer hiring and termination policy reviews and effective inclusion policies. Finally the group indicated a need to acknowledge a growing diverse community.  This was discussed in terms of empathy for culture mix; real time community diversity, and; community involvement through mentorship programs.  Thanks to the W.E.L.L. Education group for their work.  We’ll continue to track this work and keep you updated.   

I chatted with Henri Sparks, Director of Equity and Safe Inclusive Schools on with the Burlington School District on JFA TV, on W.E.L.L..  You can find that interview here

Interested in hanging out and playing board games with community members on a Sunday afternoon?  Game on!  Check here for details.

Don’t forget to provide feedback on your experience at the W.E.L.L. event July 9th. This helps us to course correct and hopefully get it right.  If you can’t do anything else, please consider this as a contribution to the cause.

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?

W.E.L.L. Updates July 12, 2019

Thanks to those who were able to join us at “What Equity Looks Like in Burlington”. 

The meeting was overwhelmingly productive and we’re excited about continuing the discussion.   If you were able to attend, please provide some feedback on your experience?  This is important to enable us achieve desired outcomes.  This is something that you can do to affect change in addressing equity in Burlington.

Secondly our next meeting, “What We 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.  Expect weekly highlights, leading up to this meeting.  Here’s todays highlight: 

Equity Highlight

Equity in City Administration

Our City Administration Group decided that three of the most important things that WE can do to address equity in City administration is to identify active community spaces (to facilitate outreach); create a position in the City government to review equity, and; attend City Council Meetings and hold officials accountable for achieving equity goals.  City Administration Team, thank you for your concise output from your discussion.

Here is a HUGE opportunity to show up as a community and take responsibility for what equity looks like!

There will be a meeting of the full City Council on Monday, July 15th at 7:00pm.  The Council will be taking up a Resolution that creates a standing Committee and a full time position (that reports to the Mayor) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  Take a look at the Resolution, reach out to your City Councilor and show up to voice your opinion and/or concerns.  This is what equity looks like!

Don’t forget about the film viewing (Slavery by Another Name), this Sunday, the 14th of July and the Justice For All Organizing Meeting on Wednesday, the 17th of July.  Both events will be at the First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington.

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 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?