Police on lookout for those who made criminal racial threats in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury police are voicing concern about what they described as three recent, separate reports of “racial epithets directed at non-white pedestrians.”
In one case, police said a white man riding in a passing car allegedly shouted a racist insult at a pedestrian. In the other cases, it was a white man who allegedly approached pedestrians and shouted racist insults at them, according to police.
“In no case did the offended pedestrian recognize or have any prior contact with the offender,” Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley wrote in a press release about the incidents. “These events are considered to be racially motivated.”
In response to follow-up questions, Hanley said the victims in the three cases were members of the Middlebury College community. Hanley said his information indicates the incidents occurred on the periphery of the college campus.
Hanley stressed this type of activity is a crime.
“It undermines community safety and security and fosters an atmosphere of racial animosity,” he said. “It will not be tolerated.”
Hanley urged victims and/or witnesses of such behavior to immediately report it to police, at 388-3191.
In the meantime, Hanley has been speaking with Middlebury College Public Safety officials about getting the word out on these incidents.
These are not the first complaints about racial insensitivity in the county’s shire town this year.
As reported in the Addison Independent, some local residents of color were taken aback with the display of the Confederate flag at two East Middlebury homes this past August. Some of those residents appeared at a subsequent school board meeting to report allegations of racial profiling, insensitive comments directed toward children on school buses and a fight in the boys’ locker room at Middlebury Union High School that was allegedly precipitated by a racial comment.
Also, someone this month spray-painted graffiti on Middlebury College buildings alleging racism.
The ACSD board last month unanimously approved the membership and charge of a new Task Force on Racism, Bias and Discrimination that will spend the next four months looking at ways to help Middlebury-area schools address “explicit and implicit bias” in district schools.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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