Justice for Kiah Morris

Attorney General T.J. Donovan, State Attorney Erica Marthage, Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette

The Attorney General, the Bennington State Attorney, and the Bennington Police Chief are failing in their duty to serve and protect people of color in the State of Vermont. Most recently, this has been made clear in their failure to adequately investigate and prosecute the open and notorious race-based harassment and stalking of former State Representative Kiah Morris. Lend your name to this petition to demand that they take action now!

Petition by
Marie Lallier
Burlington, VERMONT - WM

To: Attorney General T.J. Donovan, State Attorney Erica Marthage, Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette
From: [Your Name]

Like you, I have seen the racist attacks leveled against Kiah Morris. I have also heard the perpetrator freely admit that he is actively stalking Ms. Morris because of her race and will continue to stalk her. This is not freedom of speech; this is stalking and harassment.

I demand to know why no criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator for stalking and harassment. I am demanding to know why—based upon the facts and the explicit admissions of the perpetrator—this criminal behavior does not fit squarely under Title 13 V.S.A. § § 1061, 1062, Title 13 V.S.A. § 1027, and Title 13 V.S.A. § 1458, § 1455.

I demand to know why, when the facts are abundant and clear, that you have chosen inaction as opposed to letting a jury decide whether or not the perpetrator is guilty of infringing upon the rights of Ms. Morris and her family. This man’s behavior is not without precedent: A judge previously determined that a yearlong no-contact order was warranted.

This is not a free speech issue—this is a safety issue. The perpetrator has made clear that because Ms. Morris is black, he will continue to stalk, harass, and threaten her, and will continue to do so as long as she resides in Bennington. The intent of his actions exceeds any protection granted to hate speech—the perpetrator’s language and online harassment incited others to join him in creating an atmosphere of intimidation and violence against Ms. Morris and her family that continues to this day. It is time to to challenge the precedents that have enabled this racist and oppressive behavior against Ms. Morris and too many of our neighbors in Vermont.

At what point do Ms. Morris’s rights to liberty and freedom of movement outweigh the perpetrator’s so-called “freedom of speech”? Ms. Morris has been forced to adjust her lifestyle and life choices in response to these threats and now lives in constant fear for her life as a result of this harassment. This stress has compromised Ms. Morris’s freedom, as well as her health. This is an unfair and unjust burden. We submit that no citizen has the right to curtail the freedom of another, and that is exactly what this perpetrator has done by stalking and harassing Ms. Morris.

In the last two years, there has been a marked uptick in hate crimes, both locally and nationally. In the state of Vermont, will you bury your heads in the sand and pretend like the threat is not real? Make no mistake: the state must and will bear responsibility for protecting Ms. Morris’ rights and freedoms and will bear responsibility for any harm caused by its failure to do so. By the very definition of your office, you have a duty and obligation to protect Ms. Morris — to ensure her safety, her human rights, and her dignity.

As elected officials, you serve the public. It is your duty to protect those whom you serve and prevent any resident from infringing on the rights of another. You are abdicating your duty by failing to adequately protect Ms. Morris and her right to live free from harassment, hate speech, and stalking.

I demand that you take action now. I demand a public correction of this gross miscarriage of justice and a public explanation as to why the rights of a serial stalker — who gloated over Ms. Morris’ resignation and her family’s pain and suffering — outweighs the right of Ms. Morris to live free from harassment. Finally, we demand to know why this man’s clear violations of Title 13 V.S.A. § § 1061, 1062, Title 13 V.S.A. § 1027, and Title 13 V.S.A. § 1458, § 1455 are not subject to criminal prosecution immediately.