Black protester among 29 arrested at Shumlin inauguration blames racism for treatment

This article by Bob Audette originally appeared May 15 in the Brattleboro Reformer.

BRATTLEBORO — Three state troopers accused by a local activist of brutality are asking a federal court judge to dismiss a civil suit filed against them.

Shela Linton, a co-founder of Brattleboro’s Root Social Justice Center, in Brattleboro, filed a civil rights violation complaint against the Vermont State Police, contending that she was assaulted by a trooper during a protest in Montpelier on Jan. 8, 2015.

Bruce Parker/TNR

PROTEST: Throngs of single-payer anarchists flooded the Vermont House chamber in 2015 to interrupt the inauguration of Gov. Peter Shumlin to a third term as governor.

According to the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, Linton was one of 29 people arrested at the State House during the inauguration of then-Gov. Peter Shumlin. The protesters were demanding a public debate over the state’s failure to pass a single-payer health care plan.

“I believe I was targeted and intentionally assaulted by Detective Jacob Zorn because I am black,” wrote Linton in her complaint. “I was the only black person in the 29 people who were arrested. I was the only person to be assaulted. His actions also stood out from his fellow officers who in the similar situation chose not to use the force .. Zorn did.”

In addition to Zorn, Linton also named Paul White and Tom L’Esperance, both of whom retired from the VSP in 2015, in her suit. White was named in the suit as the supervising trooper on the scene; L’Esperance was VSP’s commander at the time.

In her complaint, which was filed Jan. 5, Linton, who is African American, wrote that she was “the only person who was assaulted,” even though she, like the others arrested, used passive resistance techniques. But, unlike the others, maintained Linton, she was injured during her removal. Linton wrote that Zorn, became “agitated and frustrated” during her removal from the Well of the House, and “forcibly grabbed, twisted, and snapped back my wrist … The pain was intense …”

After she stayed limp and refused to leave, Zorn threatened her with pain compliance, wrote Linton, which she contends was not used on others when they were arrested.

Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.

(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)

Images courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Bruce Parker/TNR

10 thoughts on “Black protester among 29 arrested at Shumlin inauguration blames racism for treatment

  1. Racism in Vermont is as prevalent as one flea on a big dog. I’m sick of bowing to the demands of those few squeaky wheels. What ever happened to “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” ? Spock 1982 The Wrath of Khan

  2. So a protest on January 8, 2015 results in a racist complaint being filed January 5…2018 I’m guessing since the year wasn’t noticed. guess it too her three years to realize she’s been targeted. OR someone has talked to her (paid her) to make a big fuss to show all the systemic racism going on in Vermont and how we need to address it… or she’s landed in hard times and is hoping to make some $.Three years though…really? this should just be thrown out because of it was real racism or a real issue she would have made a stink immediately. I smell a rat.

    • Autocorrect and proofing were not awesome this morning. And I should clarify, I smell a rat because this looks like a simple discrimination case on the surface (how do you question someone who screams racism) but the time lapse and closeness to the timeframe of the systemic racism bill in Senate (I haven’t checked recently…passed house 140-2 with several absentees if memory serves, don’t think it’s passed Senate yet) … proofed this time!

  3. Are all these so-called racist incidents part of a cleverly organized plan to get more press, divide society, and get minorities monetary settlements and special new privileges? One has to wonder a bit. There are too many incidents that appear to have been deliberately staged or happen with no reasonable cause and effect.

  4. When are we going to learn that their are 2 levels of justice. That for most of us, and the other if you can claim Racist, Racist, Racist. All the cops should be required to attend a year in sensitivity training, at their cost of course. This lovely lady can be the highly paid teacher.

  5. When all else fails, scream ‘racism! racism’ ! Seems to have worked quite well. Nobody wants to be called a racist. But somehow, its losing its oomph. Yell ‘racism’ all you want. I simply don’t care.

  6. Here’s an idea, when a police officer tells you not to resist, don’t resist. When a police officer tells you to show your hands and keep them visible, do it! Regardless of what color you are or anything else, follow the instructions.

  7. So you have a pack of buffoons at the statehouse trying to interrupt the inauguration of Gov.Peter Shumlin to a third term as governor, so they were told to leave and didn’t!

    If they had any respect for the law they would have proceeded out of the building and held their little tirade out on the Capitol lawn. No Harm No Foul.

    So the State Police forcibly removed these inconsiderate POS for the proceedings (great) and twenty-nine were arrested and now this fool (Shela Linton) believes she was targeted because she was BLACK … give me a break. She was arrested because she was leading this pack of fools.

    These fools, all 29, deserve what they got and the co-founder of Brattleboro’s Root Social Justice Center got what she deserved. Just another loud mouth that got tossed. Their protest
    didn’t go as planned … so it’s racism. Yeah.

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