Here’s the News

We are looking forward to seeing coalition members at Vermont Center for Independent Living on Thursday, 28 September at 2:00.   There is a call in number for those who can’t make it.

Join the call: https://www.uberconference.com/hughesmanthony Optional dial-in number: 585-632-4622 PIN: 66232

Agenda:

1) Update on Panel
2) Meeting on Disparities in other systems
3) Fair and Impartial Policing Policy
4) Legislative Priorities (Constitutional Amendment)
5) Poor People’s Campaign

Please pass this information along to your networks. Your support is crucial.

(H.308 ) Act 54

Racial Disparities Panel
The first meeting of The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems (created by H.308) happened on August 29th. The meeting was open to the general public. Attorney General T.J. Donavan gave passionate opening remarks and the Panel moved to appoint Christine Longmore as the Chair and Mark Hughes as the Vice Chair. The panel charge was reviewed and it was agreed that the Panel would meet in the evenings in moving forward to ensure that the general public has the ability to attend. There was a discussion on priorities and input and questions from the general public. The next meeting is scheduled for October 3rd at 6:00 PM.  The meeting will be held in a conference room at 110 State in Montpelier, which houses the State’s Attorneys and Sheriff’s Department. It is located at the corner of Taylor Street and State Street, directly across from the Pavilion Building.  You can find the Panel membership and the Legislative charge to the Panel here.

Addressing Institutionalized Racism in other Systems
H.308 (The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile System Advisory Panel) calls for the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission and interested stakeholders to “develop a strategy to address racial disparities within the State systems of education, labor and employment, access to housing health care, and economic development.” There will be a meeting of Stakeholders at the Statehouse, in room 10, on September 28th from 2:00 till 4:00 PM. The goal of the meeting is to gather sufficient information to enable the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission to provide the Justice Oversight Committee with the requested strategy for moving forward in addressing racial disparities in these systems. The Stakeholders invitation with initial questions and stakeholder groups can be found here. The agenda to the meeting can be found here. The Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission are required to jointly report on the strategy to the Justice Oversight Committee on or before November 1, 2017.

Fair and Impartial Policing Policy
The Fair and Impartial Policing Policy has been updated “to the extent necessary to bring the policy into compliance with 8 U.S.C. §§ 1373 and 1644”. We will provide a copy of this policy when it becomes available. Work is currently underway to further update the policy to “provide one cohesive model policy for law enforcement agencies and constables to adopt as a part of the agency’s or constable’s own fair and impartial policing policy”. This is expected to be completed by by the close of the year. All agencies are expected to adopt a policy that includes the components of the model policy by March 1st, 2018.

The NEW Poor People’s Campaign
Join us on the Poor People’s Campaign. Our next meeting (The Gathering) will be on October 1st at 5:30 PM at three locations:  The Workers Center in Burlington, The Old Labor Hall in Barre and The Root Social Justice Center, in Brattleboro.  The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. The Summer of 2017 through the Spring of 2018 will be used as the public launching of the Campaign. By engaging in highly publicized civil disobedience and direct action over a 6-week period in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia during the Spring of 2018, the Campaign will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism and poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation during a key election year while strengthening and connecting informed and committed grassroots leadership in every state, increasing their power to continue this fight long after June 2018. Vermont’s New Poor Peoples Campaign will focus on local issues relating to us as Vermonters and will serve as a vehicle for us to take the people’s agenda to the statehouse. Sign up here to get on the ACTION list for updates and mobilization. You can also message “PPCVT” to 444999 to join the text and email list as well.

This national movement picks up the campaign started by Dr. King and others in the last months of his life. The focus is on addressing:

1) Systemic racism
2) Systemic Poverty
3) Ecological Devastation
4) War Economy
5) Changing the Moral Narrative of the United States

This is a live-stream event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/188464115030264/

 

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Coalition Updates

All,

The implementation of H.308 is in full swing.  Here are a couple of updates on where we are with the panel and the Attorney General and HRC’s task to address the other systems (housing, employment, education, etc..).  We will provide an update on the policy component of H.308 when information becomes available.

Racial Disparities Panel 

The first meeting of The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems (created by H.308) happened on August 29th. The meeting was open to the general public.  Attorney General T.J. Donavan gave passionate opening remarks and the Panel moved to appoint Christine Longmore as the Chair and Mark Hughes as the Vice Chair.  The panel charge was reviewed and it was agreed that the Panel would meet in the evenings in moving forward to ensure that the general public has the ability to attend.  There was a discussion on priorities and input and questions from the general publicThe next meeting was tentatively scheduled for September 21st at 6:00 PM.  You can find the Panel membership and the Legislative charge to the Panel here. 

H.308 Addressing Systemic Racism in other Systems

H.308 (The Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile System Advisory Panel) calls for the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission and interested stakeholders to “develop a strategy to address racial disparities within the State systems of education, labor and employment, access to housing and health care, and economic development.”  There will be a meeting of Stakeholders at the Statehouse, in room 10, on September 28thfrom 2:00 till 4:00 PM.  The goal of the meeting is to gather sufficient information to enable the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission to provide the Justice Oversight Committee with the requested strategy for moving forward in addressing racial disparities in these systems.  The Stakeholders invitation with initial questions and stakeholder groups can be found here.  The Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission are required to jointly report on the strategy to the Justice Oversight Committee on or before November 1, 2017

Below, you can find some information on other activities:`

The NEW Poor People’s Campaign
Join us on the Poor People’s Campaign.  Our next meeting will be on September 17th at 6:00 PM at the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington at 5:30 PM.  The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. The Summer of 2017 through the Spring of 2018 will be used as the public launching of the Campaign. By engaging in highly publicized civil disobedience and direct action over a 6-week period in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia during the Spring of 2018, the Campaign will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, militarism and environmental devastation during a key election year while strengthening and connecting informed and committed grassroots leadership in every state, increasing their power to continue this fight long after June 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2046070795676711/

ANTIGONE IN FERGUSON
Theater of War

Friday & Saturday
September 15 & 16, 2017
8:00 pm

Featuring Tracie Thoms (Rent, Falsettos, The Devil Wears Prada)
and Zach Grenier (The Good Wife, Deadwood, Fight Club)
and Dartmouth College Gospel Choir

“A play that speaks to Ferguson’s tragedy and lets the audience speak back.” PBS News Hour
Seeking a way forward after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown, leaders in Ferguson, MO, called on Brooklyn-based Theater of War, which addresses community traumas through staged readings—by some of today’s most sought-after actors—of ancient texts. Together they created Antigone in Ferguson: Sophocles’ 2,500-year-old tragedy about a clash between personal convictions and state law, punctuated by soul-searching gospel songs by Ferguson singers (joined here by members of the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir). Afterwards, cast and audience engage in an honest, open discussion of how the play pertains to our own communities and where to go from here. Guest respondents for these discussions include racial justice activists, students, and members of law enforcement from New Hampshire and Vermont. Saturday’s performance will be American Sign Language interpreted.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5hmgDRA1pw
Location: The Moore Theater, Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College

Run Against Racism September 17th

Come to run at 11:30 or join us for the rally 12:30. The 1st Annual Race Against Racism is a rally and an inclusive community walking and running event.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1675800779128969/

The New Poor People’s Campaign

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has emerged from more than a decade of work by grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations and movements fighting to end systemic racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction & related injustices and to build a just, sustainable and participatory society. The Campaign aims to build a broad and deep national moral movement — rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings — to unite our country from the bottom up.

For years we have seen a kind of attention violence towards issues of systemic racism, poverty, and militarism. There was a time when our nation was fighting a war against poverty; now it seems we are waging a war on the poor. Our social fabric is stretched thin by widening income inequality while politicians criminalize the poor, fan the flames of racism and xenophobia to divide the poor, and steal from the poor to give tax breaks to our richest neighbors and budget increases to a bloated military.

The twin forces of white supremacy and unchecked corporate greed continue to gain more power and influence, both in statehouses across this nation and at the highest levels of our federal government. Today, one in every two Americans are poor or low-income while millions of children and adults continue to live without access to healthcare, housing, clean water, or good jobs.

At the same time, the issues of poverty and racism have been forced to the margins of our moral narrative and claims that a limited focus on personal morality should overshadow and supplant a commitment to public morality rooted in a critique of greed, racism, and injustice.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revivalwill strategically connect and grow different struggles and lift up and deepen the leadership of those most affected to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society. The Campaign will push forward concrete demands, build unity across lines of division, and draw on art, music, and religious traditions to challenge the dominant narrative that blames poor people for poverty.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revivalwill necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. The Summer of 2017 through the Spring of 2018 will be used as the public launching of the Campaign. By engaging in highly publicized civil disobedience and direct action over a 6-week period in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia during the Spring of 2018, the Campaign will force a serious national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, militarism and environmental devastation during a key election year while strengthening and connecting informed and committed grassroots leadership in every state, increasing their power to continue this fight long after June 2018.

At such a time as this, we need a new Poor People’s Campaign for Moral Revival to help us become the nation we’ve not yet been.

More information can be found here. https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/

Sign up for our Vermont based New Poor People’s Campaign here:

Racial Justice Reform Coalition Updates: Summer

Folks,

We hope that you are having an amazing summer.  Here are some updates on some events that will be happening in the very near future.

H.308 (Act 54, 2017) Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel Discussion
Monday, August 28th at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier
https://www.facebook.com/events/1711606875815140/
Wednesday, August 30th the Unitarian Church in Burlington 
https://www.facebook.com/events/354885951608461

H.308 (Act 54, 2017) created the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel. This legislation was put forward and strongly supported by Justice For All, the Racial Justice Reform Coalition (30 Vermont organizations) and the entire community.   Come out and learn more about the law and provide input and recommendations on implementation and next steps.  Because of you, the law exists.  It will take your continued involvement to ensure that it is implemented effectively.

We will announce other dates as they are finalized.

* Note:  Don’t miss the first Racial Disparities Advisory Panel meeting on the 29th of August at 2:00 PM.  The meeting will be in room 10 at the State House.

https://www.facebook.com/events/212749125792827/

Kickoff Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel Meeting
When:  Tuesday, 29 August at 2:00 PM
Where:  Statehouse, Room 10 

H.308 (Act 54, 2017) created the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel. This legislation was put forward and strongly supported by Justice For All, the Racial Justice Reform Coalition (30 Vermont organizations) and the entire community.   Come out and show your support.  The power of the people is derived from the transparency and accountability of our government.  Your involvement is needed more than ever.

https://www.facebook.com/events/212749125792827/


The New Poor People’s Campaign: A National Moral Revival – The Gathering:  A Time for Reflection, Revival and Resistance
When:  Sunday September 3rd From 5:30 till 8:00 PM
Where: Unitarian Church in Montpelier

This is the fourth installment of “The Gathering” series, by Repairers of The Breach. The Poor People’s Campaign tour is underway and we are growing a movement. Come and prepare for action with us!

Live from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove co-host this monthly program to equip communities with resources for faithful reflection and public action on moral issues. The Gathering includes an introduction to a moral issue, immersion in freedom songs that inform how we engage the issue, an interview with folks directly impacted by the issue, and a theological engagement with the issue that names a specific call to moral action. September’s issue is LIVING WAGE in partnership with Fight For $15 on Sunday, Sept. 3.

You can learn more about the New Poor People’s Campaign and this nation al call for a moral revival here:

https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/
http://www.breachrepairers.org/

Bring the kids and the snacks and beverages you like.

https://www.facebook.com/events/113713119284805/
Don’t forget our monthly general meeting (every third Thursday) at the Unitarian Church, in Montpelier.

As you consider where you are investing in social justice issues, remember the racial referendum that we just experienced in our national election. Consider donating to Justice For All, an organically grown, Vermont-based racial justice organization that has been here doing the work over the past couple of years.

Please help us with your membership, provide organizational support or simply provide a contribution. Help us continue this work in Vermont.

Over this past year we worked in a coalition to successfully deliver the Vermont Fair and Impartial Policing Policy, Law Enforcement Professional Regulation and the Racial Disparities Panel . Our work continues with numerous community outreach activities, Vermont Justice Coalition, Coalition on Racial Justice Reform and much more but we need your help to continue.

#DecisionPoints is a open source data collection initiative that is underway. This open platform will provide the community access to our data and enable transparency and accountability. Help us with this effort.

Sign These Petitions
Say no to The War on Drugs” that is being waged by Jeff Sessions 
Implement Oversight of All Law Enforcement Agencies in Vermont
Racial Justice Reform and a Constitutional Amendment
Establish a Racial Oversight Board in Vermont H.492
Establish a Racial Justice Oversight Board S.116

Thank you for your support!

Mark Hughes,
ED, JFA

#racialjusticereformvt

Racial Justice Bill Signed by Governor Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
May 31, 2017

Contact: Mark Hughes, co-founder, Justice For All (401) 480 8222; mark@justiceforallvt.org

Racial Justice Reform Bill signed by Governor Scott

MONTPELIER, VT May 31, 2017 – Justice For All is pleased to announce that Governor Scott signed H.308, a racial justice reform bill. This new law sets forth guidance to “establish a panel to review and provide recommendations to address systemic racial disparities in statewide systems of criminal and juvenile justice”. Vermont will once again lead the nation by signing into law the most comprehensive racial justice reform legislation in our state’s history.

The panel will “continually review the data …collected to measure State progress toward a fair and impartial system of law enforcement; provide recommendations to the Criminal Justice Training Council and the Vermont Bar Association…on data collection and model trainings and policies for law enforcement, judges, correctional officers, and attorneys, including prosecutors and public defenders, to recognize and address implicit bias;” and provide additional recommendations on “data collection and a model training and policy on de-escalation and the use of force in the criminal and juvenile justice system” The panel will also have a role in “educating and engaging with communities, businesses, educational institutions, State and local governments, and the general public about the nature and scope of racial discrimination in the criminal and juvenile justice system.” Finally, the law states that the “Attorney General, together with the Human Rights Commission and interested stakeholders, shall develop a strategy to address racial disparities within the State systems of education, labor and employment, access to housing and health care, and economic development.”

“The issues are real and the time is now”, said Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For All, the driving organization behind the Racial Justice Reform Coalition a 32-organization coalition leading the charge for racial justice reform in Vermont. Coalition member Robb Kidd of the Vermont Sierra Club said, “It’s a shame in this day and age that we actually have to have a bill passed to promote racial equality.” The Racial Justice Reform Coalition will monitor H.308 implementation and continue to boldly tackle racial justice activities in Vermont.
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About Justice For All

Justice for All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.

Governor, Please Sign H.308 Now!

jfa

PRESS RELEASE:

For immediate Release:

Montpelier, Vermont May 25, 2017 – Today The Justice Reform Coalition called on the Governor to immediately sign H.308, the most comprehensive racial justice reform bill in Vermont history..

The bill, introduced by Justice For All and a Coalition of 29 Vermont organizations calls for a 13 member board organized within the office of the Attorney General and will undertake an ongoing review of racial justice reform across the State, including economic development, and criminal and juvenile justice. The board is expected to do so by monitoring the collection and publication of race-based data, recommending policies and trainings to address systemic implicit bias, and evaluating racial justice policies, practices, and results statewide.

“We need racial justice now, there is a sense of urgency to get this panel moving”, said Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For, the lead organization of the Racial Justice Reform Coalition. “We should not have to wait for the Governor to find time on his calendar for racial justice” he said. The bill has been approved by both chambers of the Assembly since May 1st.

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About Justice For All

“This is Vermont, making history again”, said Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For, the lead organization of the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, “it is morally right and legally possible”. The bill is expected to swiftly move through the House and the Senate has called for hearings as early as Friday

Contact Information

Mark Hughes Executive Director, Justice For All
o: (802) 532-3030
w: justiceforallvt.org
t: @Justice4All mark@justiceforallvt.org

Why Do We Say Racial Justice NOW?

Why We Say Racial Justice NOW?, Erin Rose

“Yet still, we have not crossed the finish line. H.308 awaits the signature of the governor that will officially pass it into law. We call on Governor Scott for a public signing of H.308.”

Friends,

At the beginning of this legislative session, we were told by many that the Racial Justice Reform Bill (currently known as H.308) was an admirable and important piece of legislation but that it was unlikely to become law this year. We were told that our legislature functions on a biennium, that most bills take at least two years to get through, that we would have to be patient. While this was solid and experienced advice, to say the least, we disagreed.

Simply put, there was no time to wait. There IS no time to wait. With a new administration signing multiple executive orders for “law and order” and a “crack-down on crime,” as well as the appointment of Jeff Sessions -a man deemed too racist to be a federal judge in 1986- to the post of attorney general, we saw the writing on the wall. Just last week, our fears were realized with Sessions’ memorandum on charging and sentencing wherein he states that “prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense…the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”

The federal reversal of Obama-era community policing policies combined with rampant racial disparities in our own state criminal justice system were enough to instill the critical sense of urgency necessary to fight for the protection of people of color in Vermont. We are so proud and grateful to the legislators of the house and senate as well as the hundreds of Vermonters who took up this cause and demanded with us that yes, we need to see Racial Justice NOW! This bill moved with unprecedented speed through both chambers, with immeasurable support from the community every step of the way.

Yet still, we have not crossed the finish line. H.308 awaits the signature of the governor that will officially pass it into law. We call on Governor Scott for a public signing of H.308. We ask him to stand against the harmful policies coming from DC that signal a return to the disastrous war on drugs that disproportionately targets communities of color. Furthermore, we ask Governor Scott to stand WITH the hundreds of Vermonters who have fought for this legislation and affirm the position that the time to safeguard our citizens of color is now.

Erin Rose, JFA Outreach Coordinator