Cross-over Approaches; Little POC Community Testimony on Use of Force; Chair Takes Refuses Testimony on Reparations; Cannabis Regulation Hurts Blacks… More


Legislative Series
The Legislative Series continues.  Created to provide a forum to educate community members and gain their perspectives while informing legislator’s decisions on policy, the Series will run throughout the legislative session and all forums will be conducted in room 10 in the Statehouse, from 5:30 PM till 7:30 PM. You can find more on the Legislative Series here:

Testimony on H.464 is underway in House Government Operations.  Join us Thursday, February 27th for the forum on Use of Force.  Law enforcement Use of Force in Vermont is a hot topic these days. With the numerous challenges that the topic presents, community engagement and awareness on the matter is an imperative. From training to policy and data collection, this community forum will provide insight on Use of Force in policing In Vermont and share policy proposals to take us forward. H.464 are recommended for review prior to attending


Cannabis Regulation on Track to Profit State and Out of State Businesses and Bring Further Harm to Black and Brown Folks
Despite our pleas to enhance social equity aspects and eliminate elements create additional adverse impact to communities of color,  S.54, will be on the House floor this afternoon!

Learn more about our No Taxation or Regulation Without Reparations Campaign HERE.

The problem is that it doesn’t provide a adequate balance between profit and equity and fails to allocate any revenue to effectively do so.  S.54 has serious social equity, inclusion and reparative shortfalls. Some of the other serious challenges include:

1.      S.54 has no automatic expungement provision.  With a population of 12M people, Illinois recently implemented an automatic expungement provision (for low level offenses)  within their cannabis taxation and regulation policy. 
2.      The “compromise” made on saliva testing overlooks the poor efficacy of the existing technology and will disproportionately place black, brown and poor people at further risk. This technology has not reached an efficacy maturity sufficient to  be used in any capacity where civil liberties hang in the balance.   
3.      With traffic stops already disproportionately representative of black people, the seatbelt provision provides yet another reason for traffic stops.
4.  The data collection component creates a redundancy of an already inefficient process outlined in Title 20, 2366.  
Legislators have ignored the years of ostensible enforcement of low-level drug crimes (mostly marijuana) and the impact that it has had on communities of color.  They have forgotten the scathing Vermont Attorney General And Human Rights Commission Task Force on Act 54 Racial Disparities in State Systems Report (2017).  The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Marijuana (which laid the groundwork for this policy) released reports on Roadway Safety, Education and Taxation and Regulation. Collectively, they fail to mention racial equity even once.  We have reached out to the legislative leadership with our concerns and drafted a proposal for recommended language, to no avail.  Refusing to look at the cannabis regulation bill passed in Illinois last month, they have failed their own protocol on using data driven and results based approach to legislating.  Once again, communities of color are being left behind

We don’t feel that this bill should leave the House in its current state.  Tell your legislator to just vote no.  It’s better that we not regulate at this time, if have to do it at the expense of the equity and civil liberties of communities of color.

You can leave a message at the Sergeant at Arms at 802.828.2228 , contact your legislator here or email leaders at their address below:
House Speaker –
Chair of House Ways and Means –
Chair of House Appropriations –
Chair House Government Operations –

Learn more about our No Taxation or Regulation Without Reparations Campaign HERE.


Action Corner
1) The House Government Operations Committee is currently taking testimony on H.464, Use of Force Bill.  There agenda is full with law enforcement (some returning for second appearances).  Please contact them and let them know that they need to hear from the community. The bill is simple: require all police to collect use of force data and that their policy and training be consistent.  Please express your support for the bill and/or ask the Committee to take additional testimony.

* Send a note to House Government Operations 
* Leave a message for Chairwoman Copeland-Hanzas at 802.828.2228.  *Contact individual members of the House Government Operations CommitteeSign this petition calling for civilian oversight of law enforcement.

2) We’re still waiting on the House Judiciary Committee to take up additional testimony on H.284, the Justice System Data bill. This bill seeks the collection of data across the remainder of the justice system so we can ensure fairness for all.  Please express your support for the bill and/or ask the Committee to take additional testimony. 

* Send and email to House Judiciary 
* Leave a message for Chairwoman at Grad at 802.828.2228.Contact individual members of the House Judiciary Committee.

3) There is been no testimony onH.478, the Reparations Task Force Bill  in the House Government Operations Committee.  None.  The bill calls for the establishment of a task force to study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery. The Chair will not allow the bill to see the light of day because apparently there is a thought process that the State of Vermont had no role and did not benefit from the institution of slavery. The task force that this bill calls for should be empowered to make that determination.  Not the Chair.  Please express your support for the bill and/or ask the Committee to take testimony.  This bill deserves an up/down vote at a minimum.

* Send a note to House Government Operations 
* Leave a message for Chairwoman Copeland-Hanzas at 802.828.2228.  * Contact specific members of the House Government Operations Committee

Contact your legislator to express your thoughts on theses bills.  Find your legislator here.

Hidden In Plain Sight: The Truth About Systemic Racism – Community Tour
The Vermont Attorney General And Human Rights Commission Task Force on Act 54 Racial Disparities in State Systems Report in 2017 indicated that “In addition, and likely related to the income disparities, racial disparities have been documented in each of the areas identified in Act 54 (education, labor and employment, housing, healthcare and economic development).”   Until we can gain a common understanding of how and why this is happening, there is limited potential for true transformation.  Through personal stories and aided with the research of national experts on the matter, Racial Justice Alliance Coordinator, Mark Hughes unpacks systemic racism from several perspectives and discusses solutions. “Hidden in Plain Sight” is currently being presented in communities across the State.  You can find the location near you here.

Race Traffic Stop Data Dashboard 
The Racial Justice Alliance recently released the Race Traffic Stop Data (RTSD) Dashboard.  We’re excited to be the first in Vermont to offer a solution that provides reasonable race traffic stop data analysis capabilities across all State law enforcement agencies. Until now, we have been unable to to measure law enforcement’s progress in addressing racial disparities.  We are presently planning on include use of force data, gathering data from the remainder of the justice system and expanding into other state systems.
About The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance 

*Note that there is a Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Meeting tomorrow, February 11th.  See below. 

Led by people of color, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance consists of both individuals and organizations committed to the work of advocating, implementing and defending policy.  Meetings are normally the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, from 6:00 PM till 8:00 PM at the First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington. People Of Color Steering Committee, Leadership Team Meetings are normally on the first and third Mondays of each month at the same location. Go over to our Web Site and learn about the legislative agenda, all of the supporting forums and panels and how you can become a partner in the work. Take a look at our new calendar on the site to keep up with events as we plan them (bottom of the main page).

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance

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