BENNINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is expected to file a complaint this week over alleged “retaliation and discrimination” against people who reported racially motivated policing incidents in Bennington.
The ACLU said in a release that it will hold a press briefing on the complaint on Wednesday. While the release did not specify Bennington was the target of the complaint, the Banner was able to confirm that the town will be named.
“The ACLU is filing a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission (HRC) on behalf of community members who faced unlawful retaliation and discrimination after they reported numerous incidents of racially motivated policing to local officials,” the release states. “The ACLU’s clients were ultimately compelled to leave their town out of concern for their privacy and safety.”
Asked Monday for more detail, ACLU communications director S. Beth Nolan said, “Until the complaint is filed and we hold the press conference about it, I am unable to divulge information about the complaint or complainant/s.”
It was initially unclear whether former state Rep. Kiah Morris, who stepped down from her Bennington House seat in 2018, citing racially motivated harassment and threats, will be involved in the complaint.
She and her family later sold their home on Morgan Street and have moved to the Burlington area.
However, Morris’ husband, James Lawton, said Monday evening that the couple is not involved in the pending complaint.
Town Manager Stuart Hurd said Monday that he had not heard about a planned ACLU complaint to the commission.
“This case is another example of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] Vermonters facing racist attacks, harassment, retaliation, and lack of community support in recent months, including multiple people who were forced to leave their positions and/or relocate,” the ACLU release states.
Representatives from the ACLU of Vermont and the Rutland Area Branch NAACP are expected to comment during the media briefing and discuss the details of the complaint.
Mia Schultz, of Bennington, president of the area NAACP branch, said she intends to speak during the media conference.