max man

Max Misch is shown during an appearance in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division where he faces firearms-related charges. He said he’s been notified that his bank account will be terminated because of his views on race.

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BENNINGTON — Self-identified white nationalist Max Misch has been notified that his checking account at the Bank of Bennington will be terminated next month because his “espoused views on white supremacy are in direct opposition to the values we have as an organization and to those of our employees.”

Misch said he was notified in a March 17 letter from bank President and CEO James Brown that his account will be terminated as of April 16 and any remaining funds will be sent to him at that time.

Brown told the Banner in an email over the weekend that he could not discuss customer information because of privacy issues.

Misch had emailed a copy of the letter to the Banner on Friday, and the letter also was posted Friday on Facebook by gun rights advocate Kevin Hoyt, who contended the action was a violation of Misch’s free speech rights.

Hoyt said he doesn’t agree with Misch on racial issues, but believes such views are protected under the Constitution.

In his email to the Banner and other media, Misch said, “I received a letter in the mail today, informing me that my Bank of Bennington account will be terminated next month because they disagree with my worldview and opinions, using the ‘white supremacy’ term which the media tends to attach to my name.”

A photo of the letter from Brown was attached to the email.

Misch added in an email sent to the Banner Monday, “This is a nice way to treat a war veteran, someone who risked his life in Iraq and witnessed friends die out there, merely because he has the wrong opinions according to the bank.”

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TROLLED LAWMAKER

Misch became known publicly after admittedly trolling former state Rep. Kiah Morris of Bennington, who is African American, online and at public events — at one point posting a negative racial cartoon image with comments to her on Twitter.

He also appeared at a media conference in January 2019 in Bennington concerning her multiple complaints of online harassment and threats. Misch wore a shirt displaying the “Pepe the Frog” cartoon face, which has been appropriated by some white supremacist groups.

Morris had dropped out of her 2018 race for re-election to the Vermont House, citing racially motivated harassment and threats from sources in the Bennington area and elsewhere. She and her family have since sold their home moved to the Burlington area.

The media conference was called by Attorney General T.J. Donovan, who announced that, while Morris had been harassed there were no grounds to bring criminal charges against Misch or anyone else because of constitutional protections for speech.

However, Misch was arrested in February 2019 and charged with two counts of a firearms statute provision banning possession of high-capacity rifle magazines. That followed a State Police investigation that determined Misch had obtained in New Hampshire two 30-round rifle magazines, which had been made illegal to possess as of Oct. 1, 2018, as part of Vermont gun control legislation approved that spring. After a defense motion to dismiss the firearms charges on constitutional grounds was rejected by the Vermont Supreme Court last month, Misch’s attorney said he may be open to a settlement of the case and other charges in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division. He is next scheduled to appear again in court on April 26.

Each firearms charge carries a potential sentence of up to a $500 fine and up to a year in prison.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com.

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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