On behalf of Richmond Racial Equity, we would like to extend our deep gratitude to all of you who attended our Community Education Night on Restorative Justice which was presented by the Williston Community Justice Center (https://willistonjustice.org/). It was very heartening to have such a large turn out from our community, hear your thoughtful questions and see your enthusiastic support for bringing this restorative approach to our Police Department, Town and Schools.
If you didn’t make the session or were not able to stay until the end, it was streamed and recorded on Facebook and in the Zoom cloud. The Facebook recording is above; we’ll be posting the Zoom copy to YouTube and sharing that link via the Richmond Racial Equity website.
The terrific and informative slides that were shared during the presentation are available on the Richmond Racial Equity website here.
We took a quick poll at the end of the session to gauge participants’ interest in further community, governmental, and personal involvement with the Williston Community Justice Center and with restorative justice. Interest was high, with virtually all respondents indicating that they would like to see the town of Richmond, its government, its police, and its schools become more involved in the restorative justice process. Many participants indicated an interest in volunteering. (For more information about volunteering, visit https://willistonjustice.org/about/joining-the-board/)
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
In short, restorative justice involves diverting legal matters out of the traditional police-oriented justice system to a community-based system which protects and respectis the rights of the victim. “Restorative justice creates opportunities for people who have experienced harm to have a voice in shaping a response, and for people who caused harm, to make amends and be accountable for their actions.” Quote from https://www.vermontlaw.edu/academics/centers-and-programs/national-center-on-restorative-justice But that said — there’s much more to say on the topic.
Please consider joining us Tuesday evening to learn more about restorative justice and how Richmond residents can avail themselves of the services of the Williston Community Justice Center.
How does this relate to racial equity? See below for a policy document put forward in February 2021 by the associated Vermont Community Justice Centers on how restorative justice can play a role in bringing just and equitable outcomes to areas where BIPOC citizens have often been denied justice:
In the You-Tube video series, Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Emmanuel Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and “incorrect” many white Americans are afraid to ask—yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever.
A former NFL player shares his take on American race relations. Emmanuel Acho, grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses white viewers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture.
During our Zoom meeting, we will watch one 10 minute episode in the series of episodes, created by Acho followed by small group discussions. This episode looks at questions like: How can I have white privilege if I grew up poor? How is being an anti-racist different from not being racist? What is, “Cancel Culture”? This will be a very safe space for everyone who joins.
We will try to keep our gathering to one hour. The content/language is not appropriate for young children.
Today (Sunday, March 14, 2021) Community Voices for Immigrant Rights, Migrant Justice, and others held a drive-by honking at the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center in Williston, VT today to protest continued deportations and other police-state style policies and tactics — such as the proposed high-tech, 120-foot-tall surveillance towers proposed for the NY/VT border with Canada.
Don Stevens, Chief of Vermont’s Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki, is well-versed in the difficulties, prejudices and land losses that are recorded in his people’s history as far back as 1712. He has also been instrumental in changing things for the better over the past two decades.
Join him as he discusses the history, art and traditions of the Nulhegan Abenaki of northern Vermont in a special online program on January 27 at 7:00 PM. He will also show Abenaki artifacts, and provide ample time for viewers’ questions.
Indigenous to the Northeast Kingdom, the Nulhegan Abenaki selected Don as Chief in 2010. He led the effort to secure Vermont’s official recognition for the Nulhegan as a tribe in 2011, and helped restore its territorial boundaries and permanent hunting and fishing rights.
For many years, the Nulhegan Abenaki had no land they could define as their own. Don helped change that. He secured grants to purchase 68 forested acres in the Northeast Kingdom. According to Don, “We have a place where we can go to do prayers and gather as a group. We can pick up the soil and know that our ancestors walked on that land.”
His leadership also is helping broaden awareness of Abenaki traditions and history. Don’s initiatives include Nulheganaki, a weekend-long celebration of Abenaki culture held annually since 2011; the Abenaki Cultural and Historical Exhibit in place at Burlington International Airport since 2019, and the Abenaki Land Link Program, a partnership with public organizations and private landowners to establish a seed bank to grow rare indigenous crops.
Our last meeting, on January 12, identified many important and helpful opportunities to work on to move racial equity forward. To help facilitate a conversation about how to help all of those opportunities move forward, here is a list that we can use on Tuesday (Jan 26) to decide what belongs in a subgroup (Education, Policy/Policing, Reparations) and what should be discussed by the large group together:
Land acknowledgement on webpage
School board and SRO
Reflections on who we are and how we work together (continued work on the Jamboard we started on Jan 12)
Organizational relationships and partnerships
Community education opportunities
Police/SB/Town staff training education opportunities
Long term picture of our work – next three years
Review of town policies or school policies – is there racism that should be addressed
Involvement in school support and activities
No priorities intended with the order in which these topics appear; this is just a list to start us off with. Please feel free to add more when we get together.