FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from the Vermont Democratic Party Thursday, January 28, 2021 CONTACT: ACarroll@vtdemocrats.org
Vermont Democratic Party Statement on Vermont’s Ongoing Racial Injustice Toward Political Candidates and Elected Officials
MONTPELIER, VT — This week, Hartford Selectboard member Alicia Barrow resigned from her position following racial harassment, safety concerns and death threats. Ms. Barrow is Black.
If Ms. Barrow’s story sounds familiar, it’s because it is. She is the third Black woman in recent years forced to leave her elected position in Vermont due to threats of racial violence. This injustice is a symptom of the systemic racism that has long been present in our state, and which stands to prevent members of the BIPOC community from actively participating in Vermont politics.
This past September, Rutland County High Bailiff candidate Tabitha Moore, of Wallingford, suspended her campaign, stepped down from her position as founding president of the Rutland NAACP, and left her home due to racial harassment and threats in her community.
In September 2018, House Representative Kiah Morris, of Bennington, resigned from her role in the legislature due to ongoing racial harassment and targeted white supremacy, which placed the spotlight on Vermont as Rep. Morris’s story made national news.
This is Vermont in 2021. Our communities are divided. Bigotry is on full display, spurred on by the actions of our former president and his empowered supporters. Our town, county and state elected officials have been forced out of leadership again and again.
We believe it is our responsibility as Vermont’s majority political party to take actions to build a culture in Vermont politics that is safe and welcoming for all. With Town Meeting Day on the horizon, it is clear that we must act with more urgency than ever before to make sure that we are supporting our elected officials at all levels of governance. We call on our communities to condemn this violence and to stand up for racial justice with increased action and hard work.
This September, the Vermont Democratic Party released a statement on our intentions to make changes within our party: our practices, policies, and priorities. In the months and weeks since, we, alongside Vermont Democrats across the state, have been hard at work, building the necessary foundation to ensure that we truly are a party for all Vermonters. We understand that this is just the beginning of our organization’s work to dismantle the systemic racism that exists in our state and holds threat to our communities and elected officials. We remain steadfast and increasingly dedicated to our commitment to racial justice in Vermont so that our leadership in our towns, our counties, and our state will reflect and represent the voices of all Vermonters. Until then, we’ll be taking action. Once again, we stand in solidarity with the movement for change.
“The Vermont Democratic Party realizes the need to act with urgency to stand up against the ongoing racism directed toward political candidates and elected officials past and present,” said VDP Chair Bruce Olsson. “We are committed to having tough conversations and engaging in this work ongoing.”