Op/Ed

Chief Hanley: Hate speech is not free speech

The torture and murder of George Floyd by malignant police officers once again shocked and continues to shock the consciousness of the nation and the world. When oppressed, it is only natural and justifiable to rise up against the oppressor. But what about when the oppressors are among us?
In recent weeks, there has been an undercurrent of pushback against the truism that Black Lives do in fact Matter and that equality and justice should indeed be for all.

We have seen Aryan white supremacy symbols scrawled on our infrastructure; a racist Zoom bombing during a selectboard meeting; the encroachment onto private property to steal Black Lives Matter signs; and most recently, the postering about town by the “Patriot Front.”
We are imploring people to report these incidents to us. It’s not just the tangible dollar value of a sign, it’s an attack on free speech, it’s an undoing of the cry for justice, and we consider this a hate crime. The same with the Zoom bombing, the same with anti-Semitic and hateful graffiti, and the same with the postering by an avowed anti-Semitic, white supremacist organization soliciting membership — or at worst running an in-your-face campaign of intimidation.

The people that do this cover themselves with hoods and balaclavas and operate in the dark of night.
When we open a local investigation into these activities, we send documentation to the Vermont Intelligence Center for analysis with trends and similar activities in the state and region. Hate speech is not free speech.
The Middlebury Police Department can be contacted at 802-388-3191.
Tom Hanley is the Chief of the Middlebury Police Department.

 

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