Call for Public Independent Inquiry Into Bennington Criminal Justice System

Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington is joining the ACLU of Vermont and over 20 other ally organizations, in calling for an independent inquiry into Bennington law enforcement.
The ACLU of Vermont and the NAACP organized this letter as part of an ongoing call for accountability and transparency by officials in the town of Bennington and others who have had a hand in investigating the threats made against Kiah Morris and her family. The letter calls for an through, transparent and independent inquiry by a law enforcement expert who can evaluate the circumstances surrounding this breakdown in this particular case, as well as the past and current policies and procedures within Bennington’s Police Department and criminal legal system.

Governor Phil Scott
109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05609

Sent via email to:
Attorney General T.J. Donovan
109 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05609

March 18th, 2019

Re: Call for an independent and transparent inquiry into Bennington criminal justice system

Dear Governor Scott and Attorney General Donovan,

We, the undersigned organizations, are calling for a public inquiry into Bennington law enforcement practices following revelations that Bennington officials failed to disclose evidence directly related to the safety of Kiah Morris and her family to investigators with the Attorney General’s office.

Five months after the Attorney General declared a “breakdown in Bennington” and weeks after the revelations about evidence being withheld from investigations were made public, the people of Bennington are no closer to an understanding of exactly what happened, who in Bennington was aware of key evidence that had not been provided or acted on, or whether additional information was withheld from investigators. This is absolutely unacceptable.

The Town of Bennington has denied all wrongdoing, while at the same time agreeing to hire an outside law enforcement expert to investigate further. Any such investigation must be prompt, independent, transparent, and thorough. Additionally, it must encompass not only Bennington law enforcement’s policies and procedures, but also past and existing practices system-wide—including but not limited to Bennington PD. Anything less will be unacceptable.

Finally, because the Town of Bennington should not be given sole responsibility for an investigation of itself, we call for an additional, independent inquiry by state officials responsible for responding to allegations of bias and discrimination. In recent years, Vermont has passed multiple laws at addressing systemic racism – now is the time to show such initiatives were not merely symbolic and that the state is in fact committed to rooting out structural inequality and injustice wherever it exists.


ACLU of Vermont
Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington
Central Vermont Showing Up for Racial Justice
Constitutional Council of Accountability with Law Enforcement
Disability Rights Vermont
Elevate Justice 110
Fed Up Vermont
Green Mountain Crossroads
Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine
Justice for All
LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont
MoveOn Manchester
Middlebury Showing Up for Racial Justice
Migrant Justice
Peace & Justice Center
Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund
Rights & Democracy
Rutland Area NAACP
The Root Social Justice Center
Transition Town Manchester
Upper Valley Showing Up for Racial Justice
Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
Women’s March Vermont
Windham County NAACP