Vermont asks court to dismiss racism complaint by black Shumlin inauguration protester

This article by Bob Audette originally appeared July 30 in the Brattleboro Reformer.

BRATTLEBORO — A local activist who claims she was injured by Vermont State Police during a State House protest in 2015 insists she was treated differently due to the color of her skin.

In her motion to deny the dismissal of her lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, Shela Linton wrote that of the 29 people who were arrested during the protest, three were people of color.

Bruce Parker/TNR

ANARCHY: Throngs of single-payer anarchists flooded the Vermont House chamber Jan. 8, 2015, to interrupt the inauguration of Gov. Peter Shumlin to a third term as governor.

She contends charges were dismissed against 17 of the white protestors, while nine received plea agreements. However, wrote Linton, the state attempted to prosecute all three of the participants who were people of color “to the fullest degree with no plea agreement or dismissal.”

Linton also wrote that the video of the arrests submitted to the courts is not complete and the state has submitted a version that “favors them.”

She has filed suit against the Vermont State Police, Jacob Zorn, Paul White and Tom L’Esperance. Linton alleges Zorn applied excessive force out of his “own personal frustrations, beliefs, and bias …” which injured her.

“Defendant Zorn did not, as a matter of law, apply a type or degree of force to Plaintiff that all reasonable and competent police officers would have understood and agreed was constitutionally excessive under the circumstances,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Jon T. Alexander, in a response to Linton’s motion to allow the suit to continue.

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