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Hearing on Racial Profiling in Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hearing on Racial Profiling in Vermont

Burlington, Vermont - July 17, 2008

Naweza Muderhwa works for the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and says she's heard numerous reports of racial profiling.

"It's just-- there is a lot of profiling; people being stopped for no reason, being followed, just things like that," says Muderhwa.

Muderhwa is also one of the people who will be testifying in front of the Vermont Advisory Committee on the issue of racism in this state. The Association of Africans living in Vermont estimates there are nearly 2,000 people of African origin living in Chittenden County. Some of them have come forward with reports of discrimination and the Advisory Committee hopes this ongoing discussion will help educate authorities about the issue.

Muderhwa is from the Congo. She plans to relate her own experience-- when her 4-year-old brother was called a racial slur by another child, he retaliated by shoving his offender. Muderhwa says the Burlington police were called but did nothing to help the situation.

"She told us, 'you live in a white state. You have to deal with it,'" says Muderhwa. "It changed the way I saw things."

The Committee has partnered with police in Chittenden County, asking them to record the race of every individual they stop. In this way, they hope to discover if there is any truth to claims of racial profiling.

But Muderhwa believes the best way to heal any perceived rift is to invite police into the African community-- made of people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other parts of the continent.

"Get to socialize with people, go in the community, talk to people, get to know them more. And most of the people here are new, we're from a different culture-- get to know our culture," she says.

A knowledge that may build a greater level of trust.

Rachael Morrow - WCAX News

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