Updates from the VT Racial Justice Alliance




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: https://bit.ly/2QLYdit.

Join us on Thursday, February 13th for “Reparations in Vermont:  Is That a Thing?   The deliberations in the US House of Representatives on legislation that would create a Commission to study and develop reparations proposals (HR.40) have reached a fever pitch.  A bill has been introduced in Vermont that would establish a task force to study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery.  Vermont law makers remain largely silent on the matter.  We’re advancing the discussion.  Is the appointment of a task force to examine an apology and reparations the appropriate solution? What are the hopes and fears of community and policy makers surrounding the prospect of such task force? There is allot to discuss and we’ll bring representatives from community, policy makers, clergy and activists together for that discussion.  

H.478 https://bit.ly/2WZtvUa is recommended for review prior to attending.
 


PR.2 Passed the Full House 
The anti-slavery Constitutional Amendment (PR.2) was passed by the full House in the General Assembly!  PR.2 will return next Biennium, where it will be required to pass both chambers again.  If successful it will be placed as a question on the 2022 November ballot.  Thanks to all who have worked tirelessly to attain this major milestone!



Cannabis Regulation and Racial Equity 

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

S.54, the Cannabis Regulation bill continues to march through the House.  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 seem to have forgotten the “war on drugs” which included ostensible enforcement of low-level drug crimes (mostly marijuana).  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 leadershipwith our concerns and drafted a proposal for recommended language, to no avail.   Meanwhile, the cannabis regulation bill passed in Illinois last month has already changed the lives of thousands of impacted people.  Vermont must do better.
 
Contact our leadership and ask them for a robust racial equity framework and ask them to to ensure that compromises on the bill are not impacting the most vulnerable.  You can leave a message at the Sergeant at Arms at 802.828.2228 or email them at their address below:
 
House Speaker – mjohnson@leg.state.vt.us
Chair of House Ways and Means – janetancel@gmail.com
Chair of House Appropriations –  ktoll@leg.state.vt.us
Chair House Government Operations –scopelandhanzas@leg.state.vt.us

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

  
  

Action Corner
The House Government Operations Committee is taking up testimony on H.464, Use of Force Bill on Friday, February 14th. 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 vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com 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.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 vermont-house-judiciary@googlegroups.com Leave a message for Chairwoman at Grad at 802.828.2228.Contact individual members of the House Judiciary CommitteeThere is been no testimony onH.478, the Reparations Task Force Bill  in the House Government Operations Committee.  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. Please express your support for the bill and/or ask the Committee to take testimony.Send a note to House Government Operations vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com 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

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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 expanding our capabilities to include use of force date and ultimately gathering data from the remainder of the justice system.
 
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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