The White Caucus for Collective Liberation condemns the recent and ongoing harassment of Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington People of Color Caucus organizer Jabari Jones by Burlington area white supremacist Christopher Hayden. Mr. Hayden has been using various tactics to threaten Mr. Jones’ safety and livelihood. During his well-documented history of harassment, intimidation, and violent assault, Hayden has targeted Vermont legislators, the Mayor of Burlington, and People of Color on Church Street. Hayden has been arrested for simple assault, charged with disturbing the peace with a hate crime enhancement multiple times, and continues to harrass Mr. Jones at his place of work via threatening phone calls regardless of the “No Trespass” order against him.
For many people of color, Vermont can be a hostile place to live. Under the guise of free speech, area white supremacists harass people of color in our community by leaving threatening flyers which promote white supremacy culture on people’s front doors. We have seen white supremacy culture rear its ugly head again and again in this community and in this state. Vermont State Representative Kiah Morris decided to step down from elected office due to death threats she continued to receive. Former Rutland mayor Chris Louras was voted out of office after formalizing a plan to assist in relocating Syrian refugees to Rutland. White supremacy group Patriot Front holds meetings in Vermont regularly without repudiation. The neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen spread flyers throughout Brattleboro this past summer. Local resident Sheldon Rheaume’s recent display of violence in Essex, VT was racially motivated. Vermont remains overwhelmingly white for a reason.
We, white people, accountable to people of color, are working towards a future where the Greater Burlington Area can be a place where all Black people can thrive bodily, socially, and economically. We are working to transform our community for our collective liberation, accountable to people of color, and with the increased use of political education and healing justice to embody a future where People of Color can thrive in Vermont. There is a clear racist, white supremacist culture present in Vermont. We must work to dismantle this culture and the systems that perpetuate it, through intentional, active organizing, as well as relationship building.
White Vermonters, we are calling on you. Face the reality that our community is unsafe for People of Color. You can no longer ignore the hatred and violence that exists on your streets and in your neighborhoods. Condemn this hatred, racism, and bigotry in our community. Actively resist through sustained and accountable organizing. Join us in dismantling the white supremacist culture and institutionalized racism so potent and present here in Vermont.
Drew Brooks, Coordinator, WCCL: email@example.com
Brian Clifford, Coordinator, WCCL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Morrissey, Coordinator, WCCL: email@example.com
Emma Redden, Facilitator, WCCL: firstname.lastname@example.org