Two months ago, after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, we told you that VPIRG “stands in solidarity with those demanding justice and working to address systemic racism.” Solidarity isn’t about making a statement – it’s about taking action.
In launching our Racial Justice Program, we are committed to doing more than just talking about racial injustice. As an organization committed to protecting the health and welfare of Vermonters, we can no longer go about our business without confronting the systemic racism that exists here in our state.
In recent months, Black Vermonters have been testing positive for COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. For years, Black and Latinx drivers in our state have been stopped and searched at higher rates than white drivers. And Vermont incarcerates Black men at a higher rate than any other state in the country.
Simply put, a system that marginalizes, discriminates, and commits violence against people based on the color of their skin is NOT in the public interest. While we should have stated that clearly years ago, we are saying it now. And we’re ready to join forces with leaders across the state who have been advocating for specific policies and tactics to tackle systemic racism.
Our first step in our new Racial Justice program is signing onto a ten-point platform that calls for a dramatic reimagining of law enforcement in Vermont, released this morning by the ACLU of Vermont, Justice for All, the Vermont branches of the NAACP, and a number of other organizations working to dismantle systemic racism in Vermont. You can read more about that platform here.
In the coming weeks, months, and years, our staff will be working to support the leaders and organizations that have been fighting systemic racism in Vermont for so long. We will also continue to deepen our work on climate and environmental justice – and to examine all our campaigns through the lens of combating systemic racism.
Combating systemic racism goes far beyond any single issue or policy, and far beyond fixing the criminal justice system. You can expect to hear more from us about this ongoing work – and what you can to do to advance antiracist policies front here in Vermont. If you would like to reach us for any reason, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.