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May 13, 2020

Vermont State Police investigates bias-related incident in Hartford






Vermont State Police investigates bias-related incident in Hartford


HARTFORD, Vt. (Wednesday, May 13, 2020) — The Vermont State Police is investigating a bias-related incident that occurred late last week in Hartford during which a man was harassed and threatened regarding his family’s presence in Vermont.


The state police received a report of a hate/bias-motivated incident from the victim’s family at noon Friday, May 8, 2020. The victim reported that at about 10 a.m. that day, he was driving near his residence in Hartford in his vehicle, which has New York registration plates, when two unknown vehicles, possibly pickup trucks, approached him and flagged him down. The victim, thinking someone needed assistance, stopped and spoke with a white male. The victim, who is black, was advised that he was not wanted in Vermont and told to leave. There were significant racial undertones to the interaction. The victim, whose 11-year-old son was with him in the vehicle at the time, was in fear for the physical safety of him and his son. He was able to verbally deescalate the situation and drive home. No physical altercation occurred.


At this time, state police investigators do not have descriptions of the vehicles involved, including make, model, registration and direction of travel. The state police asks anyone who might have more information about the incident and the people or vehicles involved to call the Royalton Barracks at 802-234-9933.


The state police, with the assistance of the Hartford Police Department and Chief Phillip Kasten, continues to investigate this incident. Capt. Garry Scott, director of fair & impartial policing and community affairs for the Vermont State Police, has been in contact with the victim and his family for several days. The victim’s name is being withheld at this time due to concerns about his and his family’s safety.


Vermont is and must continue to be a state where visitors feel welcome, regardless of who they are, what they look like or where they come from, even during this pandemic. Seasonal residents, the owners of second homes and guests from beyond our borders remain able to travel to Vermont and live here under current health and safety requirements. As restrictions related to COVID-19 begin to ease, Vermonters should be prepared to see more out-of-state visitors, and they deserve the same expectation of safety and security that Vermont residents have. Hate speech and threats are disturbing, unacceptable and have no place in Vermont.


The Vermont State Police stands ready at all times to help people who are the victims of crime, including incidents that are perceived as having been motivated by bias or hate, and to hold offenders accountable. VSP has a robust Office of Fair & Impartial Policing and Community Affairs, and the agency has no tolerance for bias-motivated crimes — now or ever.


As Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, has said: “People in Vermont should not have to worry about crimes motivated by hate at any time, let alone when our communities should be pulling together to face an unprecedented situation that affects all of us. Members of the state police are diligent about responding to all reports of criminal activity and investigating matters with the urgency they require. Anyone who may have been the victim of a bias-motivated crime should report the incident so we can pursue it.”


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