Press release: RJA’s reaction to “Race Disparities Traffic Stop Data” published on August 24th by the University of Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
Contact:
Mark Hughes (mark@justiceforallvt.org)
Ashley Laporte (ashleyrlaporte@gmail.com)

Vermont Racial Justice Alliance’s Point of View on “Race Disparities Traffic Stop Data” published on August 24th , 2020 by the University of Vermont

We at the Racial Justice Alliance are not surprised by the racial disparities communicated in the recently released report on race traffic stop data in Vermont, published by Stephanie Seguino, a University of Vermont Economics professor and Gund Fellow; Cornell University visiting associate professor Nancy Brooks; and Pat Autilio, data analyst. The findings in this report are predictable. But most of all, we are frustrated that the State of Vermont has made zero progress when it comes to the creation of a centralized data infrastructure to house and publish this kind of race related police data. Race related data like the race traffic stop data released in the study by Seguino and Fellow would be more powerful if it were a part of a robust state-wide infrastructure and if it were properly framed through the lens of systemic racism. The advancement of Vermont’s Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) depends on a more holistic approach to race related data.

First, we believe that a robust data infrastructure is required to eradicate systemic racism in Vermont. The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance continues to call for a centralized and robust state-wide data infrastructure that supports the aggregation and correlation of ALL race-related data in Vermont. This data system would be significantly more impactful than the current racially disaggregated, periodic, and competing third-party-provided reports. The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance has begun this work with our Race Traffic Stop Data Dashboard, and we remain committed to its expansion. We call upon the State to do the same. Secondly, we call upon State, and local policy makers and leaders to create transparent and effective civilian oversight apparatuses. Lastly, we continue to urge legislators to create a robust Racial Justice platform that focuses on holistic systemic and reparative solutions to end systemic racism in Vermont, including targeted economic development, staffing for the State Racial Equity Office, establishing a Reparations Task Force and more, as outlined in the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Legislative Priorities.

Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice for All and Coordinator of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance commented, “We need systemic solutions that offer the promise of BIPOC community safety and prosperity. Without this, with each new, de-centralized report we will simply return to the beginning of the conversation of racism in Vermont where some choose to still be “shocked” and actions to eradicate racism are not pursued.”

The COVID-19 crises and racial referendum in this nation have left BIPOC folks in the most perilous of times. The tired shock and appall that always comes in response to the release of these reports without a systemic racism framing consistently leads us to the same place – information without action. We need systemic solutions that offer the promise of BIPOC community safety and prosperity, not another distracting report that returns us to the beginning of the conversation and fails to advance the work of eradicating systemic racism. It is time for Vermont to do what she knows she must. No matter how many times we look at those reports, they are going to say the same thing. We call on legislators to move forward policy directed at eradicating systemic racism in Vermont. Now is the time!

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