Open Letter to the Senate Pro Tempore and Senators White, Sears, Pollina, Cummings, Brooks and Ingram Regarding a Resolution Proposing the 2019 Senate Amend the Constitution to Remove Slavery

April 17, 2018

Mr President Pro Tempe, Peter, et. all,This inquiry went out over a month ago and I have not received a direct response, though I’ve been told that it is now “late in the session” and there a too many other things on your plates. I asked Senator Ingram to look into this and among other reasons she is  telling me that this resolution would not be taken up this session. Some indirect responses seem to suggest the assumption that we don’t understand the constitutional amendment process. We understand the constitutional amendment process. Other Senators have avoided this discussion by speaking about the 2019 Biennium as if somehow they have little chance of being a part of it (unlikely). Not to be overly critical but it seems that someone ought to be asking why there has NEVER been a proposal of a constitutional amendment, removing slavery (though there has been an ERA proposal which was not ratified because it was voted down when it reached the state ballot.). I think we all understand that you all take an oath to the constitution every time they are sworn in.

I am hearing (also indirectly) that the reason why some senators think that this is a bad idea is that “it won’t bind the 2019 senate”. We have no intention on binding a future senate. We do however want the existing seated senate to go on record on this issue, given the fact that in all likelihood most all of them will return. It is for this reason that I disagree with some senators comments that this will “bring nothing to the discussion”. In fact, I believe that it WILL START THE DISCUSSION in the midst of our continued false narrative that Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery!

Senator White represents Windsor, the home of Stephen Jacobs who was on the Council of Censors, States Attorney, County Judge, United States District Attorney, Member of Governors Council and State Supreme Court Judge while owning at least one slave in Vermont (Dinah White). They don’t teach that in school here. Let’s not compartmentalize this because then we’ll forget the importance of S.281, a bill to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont. To not understand the history of Dinah also distracts us form the conversations of patriarchy, poverty and disability.

I am having a hard time with the fact that 1) language stating the position of intent to clarify reference to slavery in the constitution has been in the VDP Platform since 2016 (before the election), and 2) you have already passed a resolution requesting an action of the 2019 Senate [ERA Amendment]. With something as important as this, It troubles me that in a time like THIS, that our VDP senate majority would not take up a resolution to urge the 2019 senate to amend the constitution to eliminate slavery.

Are we really waiting for another election cycle to pass?

 

Mark Hughes,
ED, Justice For All

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We have 48 Hours to Make History – Please Ask Senate Appropriations to Fund S.281 and PASS it  out of Committee NOW!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy. And this is where I choose to cast my lot today.

― Martin Luther King Jr., To Charter our Course for Our Future”

 

All,

If there is any hope that the systemic racism mitigation bill (S.281) passes this year, it MUST come out of Senate Appropriations funded NOW.
Appropriations cross-over is on Friday, 16 March. Here is how YOU CAN HELP:

  1. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.
  2. Call the Statehouse and leave a message for Senators, Kitchel, Nitka, Sears, Starr, McCormack, Ashe, Westman and Balint with S.281 in the subject line, asking that the committee to “immediately fund and pass S.281 out of Senate Appropriations Committee.” Also ask YOUR Senator to vote S.281 out of the Full Senate by Friday, 16 March.  Call 828.2228
  3. Please send an email to this address vermont-senate-appropriations@googlegroups.com, requesting that they “immediately fund and pass S.281 out of Senate Appropriations Committee.” Make sure that S.281 is in the subject line.
  4. Email your Senator and Ask them to Vote S.281 Out of the full Senate by Friday, 16 March.  Find your Senator’s email address here:  https://legislature.vermont.gov/people/all/2018/Senate

Here is the bill as voted out of senate Senate Government Operations. Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and again the  Q&A to verse you in the bill background and details

Senate Government Operations Votes Out S.281 (5-0) – Next Stop, Senate Appropriations

“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to work to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.Why We Can’t Wait

 

Ask Senate Appropriations to Fund S.281 and PASS it  out of Committee ASAP

All,

 

This bill which was originally intended to create a commission to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont, was passed out of Senate Government Operations as a funded AND independent body (5-0).  Now it is up to Senate Appropriations to approve the funding and they need to do it quick!  They will get the bill on the 13th and Appropriations cross-over is on the 16th of March!  There is little if any time to delay!

This could likely be the most important bill that the Senate passes this session.  Please ask Senate Appropriations to immediately fund and  pass S.281 out of Committee. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.

  1. Call the Statehouse and leave a message for Senators, Kitchel, Nitka, Sears, Starr, McCormack, Ashe, Westman and Balint with S.281 in the subject line, asking that the committee “immediately fund and pass S.281 out of Senate Appropriations Committee.”
  2. Please send an email to this address vermont-senate-appropriations@googlegroups.com, requesting that they “immediately fund and pass S.281 out of Senate Appropriations Committee.” Make sure that S.281 is in the subject line.
  3. PLEASE submit any statements and testimony NOW! Include your name, your title, your organization, the date and the bill (S.281) on your statement or testimony.   You can send them here: vermont-senate-appropriations@googlegroups.com

Here is the bill as voted out of senate Senate Government Operations. Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and again the  Q&A to verse you in the bill background and details.

Equity Commission to Mitigate Systemic Racism Heating up in the House and Senate

Senate Government Operations: PASS S.281 out of Committee as a FUNDED Independent Commission

All,

Please ask Senate Government Operations to pass S.281 out of Committee as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Systemic Racism Mitigation Commission.  Senate Government Operations has had S.281 since January 3rd“  Now is not the time for analysis paralysis on forming a commission to address systemic racism mitigation.

Senate Government Operations continues to flirt with ideas like placing the commission under the Governor’s Office; in the Governor’s Office as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; in the Human Rights Commission’s Office.  None of these options will give the Commission the independence autonomy required to focus on SYSTEMIC RACISM MITIGATION.  There will be another hearing on Wednesday, February 21st at 2:00 PM.  Come out with us to ask that this vital legislation be voted out of Committee.

  1. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.
  2. SHOW UP on Wednesday! and bring your #racialjusticereformvt placard
  3. Please call the Statehouse and leave a message for Senators, White, Clarkson, Ayer, Pearson, Balint and Ashe (with S.281 in the subject line) asking that the committee “use the amendment offered by the coalition and supported and vote S.281 out of Senate Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” 802.828.2228
  4. Please send an email to this address vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com requesting the bill be “use the amendment offered by the coalition and supported by the sponsor AND vote S.281 out of Senate Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” (please place S.281 in the subject line)

Here is the bill as introduced and the proposed amendment that the coalition and bill sponsor are putting forward.  Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and again the  Q&A  to S.281 to verse you in the bill background and details.

House Government Operations: PASS H.868 out of
Committee as a FUNDED Independent Commission 

The House Judiciary, on the advice of Representative Christie chose NOT TO TAKE UP H.868.  Their reasoning was that they wanted to “wait and see what comes over from the Senate”, with crossover less than a month away and the real potential of the bill returning to House Judiciary for additional work!  The bill is now in House Government Operations.   This bill (also submitted by the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, largely reflects our intent but our last proposed revisions missed the deadline.  We’d like to discuss and debate these proposed amendments but we can’t do it unless the bill is taken up.   Help us get the bill out of Committee as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission! 

  1. Please pass this call to action to EVERYONE on your mailing list.
  2. Please call the Statehouse and leave a message for Representatives, Townsend, LaClair, Kitzmiller, Brumsted, Devereux, Gannon, Gardner, Harrison, Lewis, Toleno, Weed, Korwinski and Speaker Johnson to “take up, amend and vote H.868 out of House Judiciary as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission” 802.828.2228
  3. Please send an email to this address vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com requesting them to “take up, amend and vote H.868 out of House Government Operations as a FUNDED INDEPENDENT Commission”( please place H.868 in the subject line).

Here is the Coalition systemic racism research document and the  Q&A on H.868 to verse you in the bill background and details.

Please print this placard and bring it with you on the day of testimony

 

Testimony on Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Act 54 and S.281 Opens

JFA Human Rights

Great News,

We have an exciting week coming up!

First Senate Government Operations will be taking testimony on the Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Act 54 and S.281 on Wednesday, January 24th.  Testimony will be in the Ethan Allen Room at the Statehouse and will start right after the Senate returns from the floor.

Here is more on the Testimony Day  https://www.facebook.com/events/810182899153124/

Print this placard and bring it with you on the day of testimony

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the Floor – Ethan Allen Room          Fair and Impartial Policing Model Policy

  • Rick Gauthier, Director, VT Criminal Justice Training Council
  • Jay Diaz, Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union – Vermont
  • Will Lambek, Migrant Justice
  • Enrique Balcazar, Farm worker, Migrant Justice
  • Keith Clark, Sheriff, Windham County Sheriff’s Department

2:30          Act 54

An act relating to the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel

  • T.J. Donovan, Vermont Attorney General
  • Mark Hughes, Justice for All
  • Karen L. Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
  • David Scherr, Assistant Attorney General, Vermont Attorney General’s Office

3:30          S. 281 – An act relating to the Systemic Racism Mitigation Oversight and Equity Review Board

Walkthrough

  • Brynn Hare, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
  • Curtiss Reed, Executive Director, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity
  • Diana Wahle, Community Equity Collaborative
  • Mark Hughes, Justice for All

Secondly, don’t forget to come out for Systemic Racism Awareness Legislative Day!  Here you learn more about the issue and how it impacts us in Vermont. We’ll also offer an overview of the S.281 and help you with some tools that will be helpful in discussing it.

Find out more and sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1582993471821380/

We will be have our regular Coalition Meeting at 1:00 PM in the Statehouse on Systemic Racism Awareness Day.

As aways here are some things that you can DO:

  • Offer testimony on on the 24th (personally or written)
  • Show up at the Legislative Day on the 25th
  • Communicate this call to action to your organizational network
  • Send note to Senate Government Operations Committee requesting that they vote the bill out of Committee  vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com
  • Call state house and ask them to pass a message to Senators, White, Balint and Ashe, asking them to pass the bill out of committee now. Here is the number:  828.2228

 

#RacialJusticeReformVT

 

Ask Senator White and the Senate Government Operations Committee to Take up S.281 to address Systemic Racism

Addressing Systemic Racism in Vermont

All,

Last session we passed a historic bill that (H.308, Act 54) that directed additional analysis on an issue that most all of us already knew existed. We spoke of it in terms in which people are generally more comfortable.  Racial disparities.  The truth is that instead of discussing the product of this national sin, we must move to discussing and addressing it at its root. Systemic racism.

Here is the report that was directed by Act 54, released last month by the Attorney General and Human Rights Commission.  The Disparities Panel Report is forthcoming.

Systemic racism is not simply about racism.  It has also historically been used to create wealth and power..and poverty, the vast majority which in number has been assigned to white people.  It has also been used to justify and sustain war.

S.281  will establish a commission that has the responsibility of managing an ongoing mitigation program!  After the bill is taken up, we will have an opportunity to offer amendments.  Go here to see what the Coalition and the bill sponsor have drafted as proposed language for the bill.

You might ask how you can help.  Here are some ways:

1)   Communicate this call to action to your organizational network

2)   Send note to Senate Government Operations Committee requesting that they take up the bill: vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com

3)   Call state house and ask them to pass a message to Senators, White, Balint and Ashe, asking them to take this important bill up now. Here is the number:  828.2228.

#racialjusticereformvt

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods… of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Dr King, Letter from Birmingham

2018 Session Starts: Equity Commission on Systemic Racism Mitigation is on the Table

2018 Session Starts: Equity Commission on Systemic Racism Mitigation is on the Table

All,

Systemic racism continues to be at the heart our social and political processes and policies.  The issue was acknowledged through the enactment of legislation that asked for advice through a panel, the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General (H.308).  We must now create the Commission that has the authority to take action necessary to mitigate systemic racism in Vermont.

S.281 is the bill being put forth to do so.  I have asked the Senate Judiciary Chair to take up the bill and informed the sponsor of our desire to modify the bill with our proposed language.

Now is the time to call for the Senate Judiciary to take up this bill.  Here is what you can do to make it happen:

1)   Communicate this call to action to your organizational network

2)   Send note to Senate Judiciary Committee requesting that they take up the bill:  vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com

3)   Call state house and ask your Senator and Chairman Sears to act now. Here is the number:  828.2228

Go here to see what the Coalition has drafted as proposed language for the bill.

Coalition background research

We will be unable to truly address any of our social issues at their core, unless we address systemic racism.

Now is the time!

Racial Justice Reform Coalition

#racialjusticereformvt