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AG rolling out ‘Bias Incident Reporting System’ in response to Morris complaints
VT Digger ^ | 01/13/19 | Colin Meyn

Posted on 01/16/2019 12:40:41 PM PST by GreyHoundSailor

Attorney General TJ Donovan will launch a new “Bias Incident Reporting System” on Monday during a press conference announcing the results of his investigation into criminal complaints made by former state representative Kiah Morris.

Morris, who had been the only black woman in Vermont’s Legislature, decided not to run for reelection partly because of racism and hate speech directed at her over the past few years. She claims that police and prosecutors in Bennington county failed to properly investigate her complaints or protect her family.

Donovan decided in September to take over the investigation, citing a “breakdown in Bennington” during an interview with Vermont Public Radio.

The results of that investigation will be revealed on Monday during an 11 a.m. press conference at the Beth El Congregation in Bennington, according to an invitation sent out to the media.

A separate invitation sent to state’s attorneys and obtained by VTDigger includes documents describing a new “Bias Incident Reporting System” that Donovan will launch to better respond to threats and language that is threatening but not necessarily criminal.

In that email, Molly Gray, an assistant attorney general in the criminal division, invites the state’s 14 elected county prosecutors to join the press conference, in which Donovan will announce the initiative along with “a forthcoming series of community forums around Vermont on preventing hate crimes.”

Donovan’s spokesperson, Natalie Silver, declined to discuss on the new reporting system until Monday. John Campbell, head of the office of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, did not respond to an email and phone call Friday seeking comment.

Two documents attached to the email describe what “bias incidents” are, and outline the new protocol that will be used to respond to them.

“Whether rising to the level of a hate crime or not, bias incidents include events intended to threaten, offend or intimidate another because of the other’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or service in the armed forces,” says a draft memo for state’s attorneys to send to their deputies.

The memo describes how bias incidents inflict greater injuries than crimes committed for other reasons because they attack the victim’s identity. “If gone unaddressed, such crimes also spread fear in targeted communities and spawn concerns amongst victims that the broader community, including law enforcement, will not protect or support them,” it says.

While the documents do not refer explicitly to Morris, they hew closely to her experience over the past three years, particularly in her dealings with Max Misch, a white nationalist from Bennington County who has repeatedly taken to social media to deride Morris for being a black woman representing a largely white district.

Morris told the Burlington Free Press in an article published this month that law enforcement needed to find a way to respond to behaviour intended to be threatening without containing explicit threats.

“Our system is not sufficient, and our understanding of how these terrorism tactics are used is not sufficient,” Morris said. “That is a deliberate tactic — to dance on that line between saying ‘I will come and punch you in the face’ to ‘I’m just sort of going to make you fear that something might happen should I see you.'”

Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette has defended his department’s handling of the complaints. “All of the complaints filed by Representative Morris and her husband James have been investigated appropriately and efficiently,” he said in a statement released in September after Morris criticized the response of local law enforcement during a VPR interview.

The solution put forward by Donovan and Campbell is a system in which bias incidents are reported to the Attorney General’s Office for potential civil enforcement by Vermont’s attorney general, the Vermont Human Rights Commission (HRC) or federal authorities.

The memo explains:

• “The AGO may seek a civil hate crimes injunction and compensatory damages, even if there is no criminal prosecution.

• “The AGO, HRC and federal authorities may address non-criminal bias incidents under civil laws prohibiting harassment in (1) employment; (2) housing; or (3) places of public accommodation.”

In situations where speech is protected, and not subject to civil or criminal enforcement, the memo says it should still be “documented and taken seriously.”

“The complaints may (1) relate to other actions that are unlawful; (2) identify community conflicts that may lead to unlawful activity; and (3) provide a basis for community outreach regarding positive, lawful responses to hate speech,” it says.

Another document describes the protocol for reporting bias incidents. Law enforcement officials are directed to contact James Pepper, a deputy state’s attorney who is the bias incident coordinator or the Attorney General’s Office.

“The purpose of such notice is to enable the Bias Incident Coordinator and the AGO to assess and facilitate other potential responses to the reported Bias Incident,” such as coordinating a response with other local and federal authorities, taking civil enforcement actions or arranging community outreach.

It’s not clear whether Donovan will recommend civil action against Misch, who told the Free Press that he decided to “commence my trolling” of Morris and her husband after a no-stalking order expired in December 2017.

As other examples of threatening behavior, Morris has reported racist literature that was slid under the Bennington Democratic Party’s office door, and swastikas painted on trees near her home.

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said Friday that at least one of the incidents that struck fear into Morris — when someone apparently broke into her house, stole her husband’s ties and scattered some of them in a local cemetery — was clearly criminal.

“The problem is they weren’t able to catch anybody,” he said.

TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: biasincident; donovan; vermont
The tyranny in Vermont continues full speed ahead, now that the progressives have a veto-proof majority in both chambers. This comes mere days after the AG swore an oath 'that you will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or Government thereof, as established by Convention'. No more 'offending' members of the religion of perpetual outrage, illegals, perverts etc. Re-education camps can't be far behind.
1 posted on 01/16/2019 12:40:41 PM PST by GreyHoundSailor
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To: GreyHoundSailor

And it will reject reports of non-Whites assaulting Whites.

2 posted on 01/16/2019 2:10:41 PM PST by I want the USA back (Lying Media: willing and eager allies of the hate-America left.)
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To: I want the USA back

Of course it will - can’t interfere with the ‘diverse’ folks from NYC and Philly spreading drugs around the state and shooting up the streets in the cities. I’m sure I’ll be on their radar soon (if I’m not already).

3 posted on 01/16/2019 2:41:38 PM PST by GreyHoundSailor
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