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Rutland Town selectman defends social media comments connected to mascot debate

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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RUTLAND TOWN, Vt. (WCAX) - A Rutland Town selectman censured over comments on social media related to the Rutland High School mascot controversy is going on the offensive.

Don Chioffi’s comments in a Facebook thread concerned Rutland City High School’s decision in February year to change the team mascot from Raiders to Ravens, a lengthy decision that continues to sharply divide the community, including Rutland Town, where the 76-year-old selectman lives.

Chioffi is in favor of returning to the Raiders name and in the thread referred to the “puny whining minority” that were in favor of the decision to ditch the name and arrowhead imagery that many native groups find offensive.

Chioffi says his comments were not about race and that he was referring to the small number of people who voted for three city school board candidates who lost because they wanted to keep the Raven name. “There is an element in our society who refuses to accept the disagreeing opinion and their answer is to try to shut you up somehow or degrade you or denigrate you somehow or other and one of the main strategies that that element has is to call you a racist,” Chioffi said.

This is not the only Facebook post in question. Another post was about Breonna Taylor, the woman shot dead in her Louisville apartment when officers executed a no-knock warrant for her boyfriend. Chioffi wrote that Taylor made a bad choice when she picked that boyfriend.

Choiffi says he filed complaints with the Vermont secretary of state and attorney general against his fellow board members for censuring him. He also complained to the Vermont Bar Association about the two board members who are lawyers.

Chioffi says he doesn’t know yet if he will run for office in 2024.

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