Attorney general’s Hate-Free Vermont forum stirs up racial divides

RUTLAND — Last week Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan hosted a public forum for the Rutland community on issues of “hate” and racism in the Green Mountain State. It was part of Donovan’s new statewide series that included more than 70 city officials, police officers and residents.

The forum, held July 25 at the Rutland High School cafeteria, was a no-holds-barred opportunity for many to share their personal experiences about discrimination, racial and religious prejudice, and even gender bias across the region.

Lou Varricchio

Rutland NAACP President Tabitha Moore (third from left) and Curtiss Reed, Jr. (second from left) of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity played prominent roles in leading the Hate-Free Vermont forum.

Among those attending the meeting were Rutland Mayor David Allaire and Rutland Police Chief Brian A. Kilcullen, as well as representatives of the Vermont State Police. Also in attendance were Rep. Thomas Burditt, Rep. Cheryl Mazzarello-Hooker, and Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy.

Rutland NAACP President Tabitha Moore and Curtiss Reed, Jr. of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity played prominent roles in leading the forum discussions.

In recounting their personal stories, forum attendees were asked by Donovan not to identify names of alleged racists due to potential “slander concerns.”

While the event sometimes resembled a gripe session, the speakers were nevertheless heartfelt in their accounting of what they believe is ongoing systemic racial bias within the Rutland community.

Several unidentified speakers expressed concerns about conditions at Mill River High School, including accounts of an unnamed teacher who allegedly gave students of color short shrift in the classroom when it came time for students to select a book for the class to read and discuss.

Another attendee reported gender bias at Rutland Regional Medical Center. A woman recounted her run-in with an alleged “cult” of hate operating out of a restaurant in downtown Rutland. The name and location of the establishment was not revealed.

Other residents stood up to offer speakers their support, but without specific stories of their own to share.

State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said that domestic violence, along with all the other problems discussed, was of interest to her office, yet is often hidden in the shadows.

Under Donovan’s guidelines for the forum, specific names and dates were not mentioned regarding the incidents and of alleged offenders. As a result, many of the stories shared at the event were anecdotal.

Lou Varricchio

Capt. Gary Scott of the Vermont State Police

Regarding policing throughout the Green Mountain State, Capt. Gary Scott of the Vermont State Police reported that the state’s top law enforcement agency has been collecting data of traffic stops since the year 2000. He stressed that the police continue to improve data gathering and reporting to the public.

Scott noted that in 2018, 1,500 black motorists were stopped statewide. While walking a delicate political line, he also said the Vermont State Police was “getting heat” from the U.S. Border Patrol for not calling the agency enough on various border infractions. The acknowledged clash with federal law enforcement authorities, while not specified by Scott, is likely related to the state’s trend toward becoming a “sanctuary state.”

“(Blacks) are ticketed at 40 percent, whites are ticketed at 36 percent, Asians at about 50 percent, Hispanics are ticketed at 42 percent, and Native Americans at about 42 percent,” Scott said.

Scott added that he is “concerned” about statewide search rates. The search rates for white motorists is 0.6 percent, according to Scott.

“But … black operators are at about 1.6 percent, and then (search rates for) Hispanics are about 1.9 percent,” he noted.

Chief Kilcullen said that the city’s traffic-stop database is not as well developed compared to the State Police. He also promised to be more transparent and to post data on the department’s website.

When the NAACP’s Moore asked Kilcullen if he would consider a citizens panel for advice and guidance, he agreed readily.

According to Curtiss Reed, Jr., Rutland’s ongoing and future economic viability is only as good as its embracing of a diverse community of residents. He warned that the region is in peril if it ignores the economic and cultural contributions made by residents of color.

“Overall, I am bullish on Vermont,” Reed said, “ … but if your town doesn’t want to acknowledge black and brown people, or if your reputation is one that is culturally intolerant, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot economically.”

Reed stressed that white leaders need to wake up to the area’s changing demographics. He said that the black business sector is growing and entrepreneurs of color may go elsewhere to do business. When compared to Rutland, Reed said that many black business people are looking at Burlington, Brattleboro and Winooski as more welcoming communities.

Attendees expressed solidarity in keeping on the pressure with community leaders and the public in making incidents of “hate” more visible regardless of comfort levels.

“If we don’t speak up, they won’t ever think it’s a problem,” NAACP’s Tabitha Moore told forum guests.

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at

Image courtesy of Lou Varricchio/TNR

33 thoughts on “Attorney general’s Hate-Free Vermont forum stirs up racial divides

  1. I’m a native Vermonter, yes, but I’m glad to b living and working in SE Asia now, where they openly, IN YOUR FACE, express how they feel about foreigners of various creeds and color, be it African, Indian, Euro or in between. They have the balls to do it, and are backed by their govt and society.
    As a result, all of us who are not natives relax and go about life. No race riots, no political divisiveness, no snowflaking.
    Live with it, or go home.
    Not that Vermont should adopt such an ultimatum, but a balance is in order, and soon.

  2. There is something wrong with this guy. Seriously wrong. He is responsible for all the animal cruelty that goes on in this state….. just allows it to happen. Always, always, lets animal abusers and animal torturers off the hook. The man is sick. And his attitude towards the rest of us…..racists? bigots?…..tells the whole story. But this is Vermont. Communist Vermont. Somebody elected this jerk…….but it sure wasn’t me.

  3. I want the AG to tell us how many blacks are here because they got nabbed for dealing or having drugs, and a court ordered them to stay here on probation. — that I bet makes up most of them, and guess what? Normal people don’t like drug users or dealers. That is not hate.

      • Soooo, how many then? Do YOU have stats?

        Do you think Vermont is exempt from national statistics?

        Try getting real, you just might enjoy it.

      • Awaiting the white supremacist diatribe. Meanwhile you aren’t worth losing sleep over.

        • What is the white supremacist diatribe? And what is a white supremacist? Somebody who actually calls out real statistics instead of pretending it is something else? Is it somebody who actually calls for accountability? Is it somebody who sees wrong and calls it out? Or do you just believe we should all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that these stats don’t exist? People like you are scary. Truth is your enemy.

          • In the same studies it showed men are pulled over 80% more than women. Are the cops even more sexist? Nobody talks about that how come?

          • Re-read the thread, amigo.
            I really am on your side, however much you misunderstood what was said.
            white supremacist diatribe–inferring racial prejudice to put “the other guy” on the defensive

  4. Judging by the comments here, clearly the state has a long way to go in addressing its issues with racism and demonizing of minorities. All minorities are drug dealers looking to push their poison on the people of VT? What a load of bs…. Unfortunately this is typical from a “news” outlet that is privately funded by one individual and clearly has an agenda towards misinformation.

    • Thank GOD for this REAL NEWS outlet!!! The fake news you are digesting has tainted your thinking. Yes. Some of ‘the press’ really are the enemy. Fake news shapes opinions….wrong opinions…. and you are just another casualty.

  5. There are those who would attack free speech and somehow suggest it is still free when they limit it by what they deem hateful. Take note of these people for they preach the opposite of what they espouse and are of great danger to our free society.

    To categorize speech is to divide and when you fear you cannot speak freely you are not free!

  6. Here we go again, making something out of nothing. You get these transplants over
    from the Cities ” NY, NJ, MA ” and all of a sudden we are all racist … Pure BS.

    So you come to VT to peddle your poison, yes Rutland along with others have a drug
    problem and when you get pulled over for speeding and guess what, If you break the law,
    you get the punishment it doesn’t make you a racist, pretty simple.

  7. Democrats KKK has toned down their cross burning in Ruttland I see. The only complaints seem to
    be a teacher giving a reading List? and a restaurant that don’t sell soul food…In the tickets dept
    It seems to be the ricers speeding around in the little fart cars (Asians) getting the majority of interest from the coppers..Why aren’t they complaining?? We shouldn’t be ticketing on the basis of color,
    we should be ticketing on the basis of law violations..I resent the guberments looking for problems that
    don’t exists when theres plenty of problems that do exits that they won’t address. I’ve had it with
    the sharptonesq race baiting going on in this state lately.

  8. What B.S. Everybody is a victim. How to tear whitey down? Be a victim! It works! Blacks are victims. We must protect them. Whine, whine, whine…and spit out your hatred. It is the minorities… you know…. those ‘diversity’ folks…..who are the racists.

  9. “The acknowledged clash with federal law enforcement authorities, while not specified by Scott, is likely related to the state’s trend toward becoming a “sanctuary state.”

    Pls stop the bs…VT is in fact a defacto Sanctuary State…no possessing a brain is fooled but apparently we’re not supposed to trust our lying eyes…

  10. It’s interesting, the intent of this forum is the opposite of what it professes. It is purposely bringing up isolated events to paint a picture that our state is racist, we are racist, there is much hate in Vermont.

    If someone wanted to stop hate, their is only one antidote, love. One has to teach people to love, one has to demonstrate love, one has to demonstrate acceptable practices, of which this forum will have nothing to do with.

    Forgiveness is essential if people are going to love one another, yet again this will not be discussed. The manual has a different approach.

    If there are slights, or bad things done. The immediate reaction is to call a state wide press, and ask for all to resign or be fired. If we wanted to heal, we’d walk a few miles in another persons shoes….many of our leaders don’t want to bring people together, solve problems and heal. They want to keep the division going, divide and conquer as they say.

    Meanwhile the Vermont motto is Freedom and Unity.

  11. Thank goodness they protected the racists from “slander”. Unbelievable! What a joke.

    • ‘Alleged’ – you do know what that means right? Especially when one person tells the story and nobody hears the other side. Perhaps you should give the Constitution a read.

      • Pesky little document, it was causing too many difficulties in the school system so they don’t teach that dated document any more.

        All the rage now is intersectionality, where everyone boast about how their struggles in life are inherently worse than somebody else’s. (funny the spell check on this site doesn’t have anything for the word intersectionality)

        We used to teach our youth how to deal with the challenges in life, everybody faces them, no one gets out without bearing some struggle.

        Mob justice is also the rage….our founding fathers were so passe.

        Come on Seth hop on the progressive train, nothing is your fault, and everything is free man. Don’t be square, books are for losers. Take the propaganda feed, Now This, Democratic Socialists, Media Matters…..drink the propaganda…don’t think, it hurts you know.

  12. To hear these characters, you would think Vermont is more hateful then the south is today.

      • Not at all. People there are more mentally well balanced then these liberals in vermont.

          • I’ve spent a LOT of time in 4 southern states and guarantee that folks in every one of them would have no hesitation in calling Biskit CRACKERS!
            And they’re a helluva lot more polite than yerself.

          • Hey cranky, I know you fancy me your enemy but I grew up in Florida and one of my best friends’ nicknames for me actually was Salted Cracker. Lol. I love how you can attempt to insult me and call me impolite in the same sentence. Your hyprocrisy is so funny!

          • Got a strong NY influence growing up. U just got a Bronx compliment, Mr. Kettle.

            How glad wuz the copperheads to see you leave?

        • People are more mentally well balanced ANYWHERE than liberals in Vermont. It’s embarrassing to even say you are from Vermont. These people have changed the nice, bucolic image of our state into the hammer and sickle.

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