Activists say their office was target of racially motivated attack

A photo of a window broken by a brick at 294 North Winooski Avenue community center where local activists work. Courtesy photo

A photo of a window broken by a brick at the 294 North Winooski Ave. community center where local activists work. Courtesy photo

BURLINGTON — Activists working out of a community center in the Old North End say whoever threw a brick through a window at the center made a racially motivated attack aimed at intimidation.

Police say they are investigating the vandalism as a “possible bias” incident. The community center at 294 North Winooski Ave. is home to the Vermont Workers’ Center, Migrant Justice and the United Electrical Workers Union.

All three groups are active in campaigns aimed at greater social, economic and racial justice.

A Black Lives Matter sign is displayed prominently in the window near where it was struck by the brick. A member of the Workers’ Center discovered the brick when they arrived at work Thursday morning, and the group filed a police report shortly after.

The responding officer took a preliminary report and evidentiary photographs. The property manager reviewed security footage from the buildings cameras during the likely time of the incident, which did not appear to yield images of a suspect, according a new release issued by police.

None of the groups had received any specific threats to the center, members or employees, police said.

A detective is assigned to the case, and anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call Detective Daniel Gilligan at 802-540-2247.

In a statement, members of all three organization working out of 294 North Winooski Ave. condemned the attack. The group held a news conference Thursday night attended by members and supporters.

“As a person of color, union member, and a worker I am extremely disheartened to see a racially motivated act of violence against our communities,” said Senowa Mize-Fox, a member of the United Electrical Workers union.

“This was a racially motivated response to the growing success and power of black and immigrant-led movements for justice across the country,” said Kate Kanalstein, with the Vermont Workers’ Center.

Another member of the Workers’ Center was one of two women of color whom prosecutors say was targeted by avowed Ku Klux Klan member William Schenk who allegedly posted Klan fliers on their apartment doors.

Schenk faces two counts of aggravated disorderly conduct enhanced by hate crime penalties and faces up to four years in prison. His case is set for jury draw in late April.

Activists with all three groups say they will host a “Vermont People’s Convention” in conjunction with other social justice organizations from across the state at Montpelier High School on the weekend of April 30.

Morgan True

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