Expand the Human Rights Commission; Take Up H.465


House Judiciary

Open Letter
Regarding H.465,

Mark Hughes
Racial Justice Alliance Coordinator
Justice For All Executive Director

March 6, 2019

Madam Chair,

Please take up H.465, a bill that will update the Human Rights Commission and make racial profiling illegal.

Act 54 (2017) charged the Attorney General (AGO) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) with “developing a strategy to address racial disparities within the state systems…” The problem is that things are getting worse, not better.  This year, the Vermont Human Rights Commission indicated in its annual report “a sharp increase” in case load.The Act 54 Task Force Report, indicated that in conjunction with our efforts to address systemic racism we must work to ensure that the cultures of state agencies and schools do not undermine these efforts…People of Color feel welcome…and that they are not subjected to discriminatory behavior by state workers, co-workers, members of the public, or in their communities.”

The data that we have indicates that we need to immediately expand the Human Rights Commission. We must expand the capacity, streamline intake processes and add community outreach and education functionality to the Human Rights Commission.   We ask that this include an amendment that includes appropriations for an additional litigator and a community outreach director.  We see the data that supports this legislation in the news every day.  We see the data support this bill in the report form the HRC, our courts, Legal Aid, and the ACLU.Paragraph

We continue to struggle with discriminatory policing across the state.  It is time that we join the other 30 states in the country that have legally prohibited racial profiling. We have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves and they are counting on us to do so.   The Act 54 Task Force report concluded, “People of Color have waited far too long for the equality we promise in word but not deed. It is time to remedy that wrong”.  Please take up H.465.  We’ve waited long enough.

Please ensure that H.465 crosses over for 2019 passage.

Respectfully,

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