Crime News

Addison man charged with hate crime, targeted Migrant Justice

CHASE ATKINS

ADDISON — An Addison man has been charged with a hate crime, stemming from allegations he deflated the tires of a vehicle belonging to an employee of the organization Migrant Justice and left a voicemail at that nonprofit asking its representatives to stay away from area farms, back in August.
Chase Atkins, 24, of Addison has been cited with misdemeanor disturbing the peace by telephone, with a hate-crime enhancement.
Police said the case relates to an ongoing investigation into several suspicious incidents and vandalisms in the Bridport area during the month of August. Police allege Atkins visited a farm off Route 22A near Whitford Road in Addison and while there, let the air out of the tires of a vehicle belonging to an employee of Burlington-based Migrant Justice. The nonprofit works with migrant laborers — many from Mexico — who work on Vermont farms.
Police further allege that “several days later” Atkins left a voicemail for Migrant Justice in which he asked its workers to “not return to farms,” in a message they said “would have left a reasonable person to feel threatened and intimidated.”
Migrant Justice program coordinator Marita Canedo told Seven Days that the messages left for the group promised “worse things will happen” if members returned to the area.
Police interviewed Atkins on Sept. 12, after which he was cited to answer to the allegations in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Nov. 18. State police said they worked closely with the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office, which decided to pursue misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace by telephone, with the hate-crime enhancement. State police also informed the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, under the Bias Incident Reporting System, during their investigation.
Meanwhile, three Bridport men are slated to be arraigned Oct. 7 on charges related to the aforementioned suspicious incidents and vandalisms in Bridport, which state police have linked to a feud between local farm families.
In addition to stalking and arson counts, state police have cited Christopher Thompson, 26; Christian Leggett, 19; and Bryan Ashley-Selleck, 26, with providing false Information to police officers, petit larceny, noise in the nighttime, and unlawful mischief.
Some of those targeted were migrant workers, according to authorities.
Migrant Justice, through an August Facebook post, alleged farmworkers’ houses had been surrounded on multiple nights by “a group of people” who yelled insults and broke windows and air-conditioning units. Members of the group also spoke of a gunfire incident.

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