Saturday, March 9, 8:30 am to 2:30 pm • Grace Congregational Church, Rutland
As concerns about government-sponsored violence and discrimination toward immigrants—in particular non-white people who are assumed to be undocumented immigrants— continues to dominate national and local news, Vermonters are more vocally expressing confusion, concern, and outrage over what is happening in our country. It is no secret that Vermont has its own issues, including the fact that we have the highest incarceration rate of black men in the nation. Recently, these topics as well as increased visibility of identity-based harassment, have begged the question, What rights do Vermonters have both when questioned by law enforcement and when seeking support or protection against identity-based harassment in general?
In response to community request, the Rutland Area branch of the NAACP has organized a Know Your Rights training. This training includes workshops facilitated by the Vermont ACLU, Vermont Human Rights Commission, and the Vermont Law School. After lunch, we are honored to host some of Vermont’s most recognizable and widely-respected black men, who will share their experiences, suggestions, and hopes for the future of our state. Sessions will be conducted by age groups (10-16, 17-25 and 26+). This event is free and open to the public. Participants should register ahead of time to ensure seating, materials and meals.
Sessions will be conducted by age group in order to be most useful and appropriate for each group.
Our sessions and session leaders:
ACLU: How can YOU hold law enforcement accountable? What are your rights when encountering law enforcement? We will answer these questions and more with an overview of your rights in encounters with police and a discussion of a recent Vermont Supreme Court case that increases our ability to hold police accountable when they violate those rights. Also, in this conversation, we will be taking a broader look at the movement and Smart Justice Campaign—in Vermont and nationwide—to bring about systemic and meaningful criminal and racial justice reforms.
Lia Ernst is a Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Vermont. She previously served as a judicial law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, a legal intern at the ACLU of Michigan, a legal fellow at the ACLU of Massachusetts, and an associate attorney for a small Michigan firm focused on criminal defense and attorney ethics.
Ashley Messier is a Criminal Justice Reform Advocate and Consultant for the ACLU Smart Justice Campaign. Ashley came to this work through being directly impacted by the criminal justice system and its collateral consequences. She is a true Vermonter, mother, and community volunteer.
Vermont Human Rights Commission: Bor Yang, Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Vermont Human Rights Commission will be reviewing individual rights under the state’s anti-discrimination statutes: Discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodations (schools, roads, hospitals, stores and businesses, etc.). The session will answer these questions: What can I do if someone is bullying, harassing or hazing me? What are my rights if l have been discriminated against? How do I prove discrimination occurred? What about implicit bias? Why should I file a complaint at the Human Rights Commission? How do I file a complaint at the Human Rights Commission? What happens during an investigation? What happens when there’s a finding of discrimination? This will be an interactive session so please bring your questions.
Bor Yang serves as the Executive Director and Legal Counsel for The Vermont Human Rights Commission. She joined The Commission in 2015 as an Administrative Law Examiner and investigated claims of discrimination in housing, state government employment and places of public accommodations before becoming the Agency’s first person of color, first immigrant and first person with a disability to hold this position. She completed her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School. After a clerkship in District Court, Bor practiced in the areas of family law, government benefits and social security law, representing indigent clients and victims of domestic violence at a non-profit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Preceding her move to Vermont, she was a solo practitioner, qualified neutral mediator and college instructor in a legal studies program. As Executive Director, Bor supervises all investigations, litigates discrimination claims on behalf of the public interest, advances policies related to civil rights and provides training on implicit bias, fair housing, bullying, harassment and hazing and more throughout the State of Vermont.
Vermont Law School: coming soon!