Testimony for Constitutionally prohibiting Slavery and Changing Vermont

All,

The Senate Government Operations Committee has delayed the vote on the constitutional amendment, prohibiting slavery.  Testimony has been reopened for Thursday, February 28th at 3:15.    

1)  TESTIFY ON PR.2:  Give the Senate Government Operations Committee the Rest of the Story

We”re excited that this will give us an opportunity to tell our stories.  The Senate Government Operations Committee have concerned themselves with the task of preserving the historical significance of the fact that “Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery”.  The fact is that Vermont never abolished slavery from the constitution of 1777 or 1786 and after becoming a state the constitution of 1793 never abolished slavery.  In fact, after 242 years and 28 adopted amendments the Vermont constitution has yet to abolish slavery.  Sadly, the language that the Government Operations Committee was poised to vote on would not have abolished slavery either.  To be clear, no state in US history has held constitutional language permitting slavery longer than Vermont. 

Why is this important?  It is language like this in the constitution that serves as the edifice of the criminalization, punishment and oppression of black and poor people. This is not the time to attempt to “preserve” aspects of this document to capture the essence of the mindset of white men at a time when black people were property.  This is not even a time to comport the new language to the statutes, rules and institutions that it now upholds.  The purpose of this proposal (PR.2) is “…to serve as a foundation for addressing systemic racism in our State’s laws and institutions. You can help change this entire system by helping to shake it at its foundation.  #EndslaveryVT

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2)  Ask Senate Government Operations to Take up S.120: Give the Racial Equity Director a Chance to Succeed! 

Remember S.281, the Systemic Racism Mitigation Commission?  Well the Racial Equity Director was left reporting the Governor with an option to move the position under the Secretary of Administration.  We all know how this story ends. If there is any hope for the Racial Equity Director to be effective, me must ensure that the position is on par with his or her contemporaries.  Join us in our calls for Senate Government Operations to TAKE UP S.120.

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3)  Ask Senate Judiciary to Take up S.119:  Address Use of Force with Law Enforcement

Did you know that law enforcement does not collect use of force data as a part of the race traffic stop data collection processes?  It gets worse, There is no model Appropriate Use of Force Policy or standardized training across all agencies either.  A recent report from the Burlington Police Department indicated that use of force was being applied to black people at 4 to 5 times the rate as white folks.  Stand with us as we call for Senate Judiciary to TAKE UP S.119.  #fixUseofForceVT

TAKE ACTION NOW

  • Leave a message for your senator.  Find your senator here OR call 828.2228
  • Email the Committee and senior leadership.  Email address: vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com
  • Leave a message with member of Senate Government Operations.  Find member here or call 828.2278

4)  Ask House Government Operations to Take up H.478: Appoint a Slavery Reparations Commission 

Legislators have acknowledged disparities in the criminal justice system in Act 54 (2017) and the Attorney General’s and HRC’s Task Force Report.  The need to address systemic racism in all state government is in the process of being addressed with the hiring of a Racial Equity position, as prescribed in Act 9 (2018).  Serious consideration must be given to if and how Vermont chooses to address reparations.  This commission will grapple with these questions.  Help us as we call on House Government Operations to TAKE UP H.478.  #ReparationsVT

TAKE ACTION NOW

  • Leave a message for your Representative.  Find your representative here OR call 828.2228
  • Email the Committee and senior leadership.  Email address: vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com
  • Leave a message with member of House Government Operations.  Find member here or call 828.2267
     

5) Ask the House Judiciary to take up H.465: Expand the Human Rights Commission and Prohibit Racial Profilingiciary

The Human Rights Commission has never in its existence been more busy and it has always been underfunded. What is more important than protecting the civil liberties of every protected category in this state? We have waited far too long. Let House Judiciary know that it’s time to TAKE UP H.465. #NoracialprofilingVT

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