Community partners host ‘Hate-Free Vermont’ forum

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - What is a hate crime and how does our legal system address them? Those were the two biggest questions posed at Thursday’s ‘Hate-Free Vermont’ forum in Rutland.

“The goal was to understand how hate and bias show up in Vermont and what are the experiences of folks on the ground, that those offices wouldn’t necessarily hear about,” said Rutland Area NAACP facilitator Tabitha Moore.

The forum is one of a series being hosted by the Rutland Area NAACP, Vermont’s Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney General for Vermont. People Thursday shared their personal stories and suggested to officials what they could do better. Julio Thompson, the director of civil rights at the Vermont AG’s office, says there’s been an uptick in reported hate crimes over the past two or three years. Thompson says it could be because of the political atmosphere or because people have a better understanding of how to report them. He says a hate crime has three elements -- a crime, a bias against the victim, and some type of injury to them.

“A hate crime has a multiplier effect, unlike many other criminal acts, so an attack on one individual because of who they are has a ripple effect on a community,” Thompson explained.

In addition to those hosting the forum, the Rutland State’s Attorney, the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and agents from the FBI’s Albany Field Office were in attendance, sharing resources and listening.

Resources included:

Report Hate Crimes to the FBI

Hate Crimes- Office of the Vermont Attorney General

NAACP-Rutland Area Branch

You can also contact your local law enforcement agency. The next ‘Hate-Free Vermont’ forum will be on September 29th in Bennington.

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