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Friday, March 17, 2017

ICE Arrests Two More Immigration Advocates in Burlington

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 8:37 PM

Zully Palacios and Enrique Balcazar - COURTESY OF MIGRANT JUSTICE
  • Courtesy of Migrant Justice
  • Zully Palacios and Enrique Balcazar
Updated March 18, 2017 at 1:55 p.m.

Immigration officials arrested two more undocumented Migrant Justice advocates Friday afternoon, leading to protests that drew hundreds of people.

Enrique Balcazar, 24, and Zully Palacios, 23, were arrested and detained by undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a traffic stop on Shelburne Road in Burlington, said Will Lambek, a spokesman for the Vermont-based human rights organization.

Migrant Justice members arrived on the scene to see both Balcazar and Palacios being loaded into an ICE van. Neither had a criminal record, according to Lambek.

The incident marks the third ICE arrest in three days. On Wednesday, 23-year-old Cesar Alex Carrillo was detained on his way to a Burlington courthouse to respond to a misdemeanor DUI charge. The charge was later dismissed, though Carrillo was not present at the hearing.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

ICE Arrests Immigrant Worker Outside Burlington Courthouse

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Cesar Alex Carrillo, left, with his young daughter and wife, leading a 2016 march to urge the release of a migrant worker. - COURTESY: MIGRANT JUSTICE
  • Courtesy: Migrant Justice
  • Cesar Alex Carrillo, left, with his young daughter and wife, leading a 2016 march to urge the release of a migrant worker.
Immigration agents arrested a veteran Vermont dairy worker from Mexico on Wednesday outside a Burlington courthouse as he headed to a hearing for a driving under the influence arrest, according to a human rights organization.

Cesar Alex Carrillo, 23, faces deportation after his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers outside the Edward J. Costello Courthouse, according to Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based group led by immigrant dairy farmworkers.

Carrillo is married to a U.S. citizen who is pregnant with their second child, according to Migrant Justice.

"When they arrested Alex, they took away a father, a husband, a human being," his wife, Lymarie Deida, said in a statement released by the group. Deida and Carrillo have a 4-year old daughter.

During the hearing that brought Carrillo to the courthouse, prosecutors dismissed a DUI charge stemming from a 2016 arrest, though he was not present, Migrant Justice said.

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Chittenden Prosecutor Creates Commission to Study Safe Injection Sites

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George - COURTESY: GOV. PHIL SCOTT'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy: Gov. Phil Scott's office
  • Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George is creating a commission to study whether the county should allow so-called safe injection sites, where street drug users would have medical supervision and would be exempt from arrest.

George said she is not taking a formal position on the idea but wants an "open and honest discussion" about whether the sites could help in the fight against opiate abuse.

While George did not provide details, the sites generally allow users to inject drugs that they purchased illegally — without fear of prosecution. Rep. Selene Colburn (P/D-Burlington) introduced a bill earlier this year that would legalize such sites in Vermont.

"People in our community are committing countless crimes, losing their jobs, losing custody of their children and even dying because of this disease," George said in a prepared statement. "I have an obligation to examine all potential solutions that could reduce overdoses and deaths and keep our community safe."

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Middlebury, Police to Investigate Violent Protest of Murray Lecture

Posted By on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 7:49 PM

Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
  • Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
Updated March 7, 2017, with comments from Middlebury police.

Middlebury College has begun an independent investigation into what happened during — and after — an attempted lecture by controversial author Charles Murray, the school president said Monday.

The Middlebury Police Department will also begin an investigation into a confrontation that happened after the lecture, as Murray left the campus hall, Laurie Patton said in a statement. However, the department’s chief said that it has yet to receive a criminal complaint.

A school official previously said Professor Allison Stanger was injured while protecting Murray from a “mob” that descended on them as they tried to leave Thursday evening.

“This was an incredibly violent confrontation,” Bill Burger, the Middlebury College vice president for communications, told Seven Days on Friday.

School officials aborted an attempted lecture by Murray, who has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist, after protesters shouted him down from inside Wilson Hall. He later gave an abbreviated talk, live streamed online and mediated by Stanger, from a different room inside the McCullough Student Center.

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Donovan Releases Immigration Guidance Before Town Meetings

Posted By on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 1:41 PM

T.J. Donovan - FILE
  • File
  • T.J. Donovan
On the eve of a Town Meeting Day that will see several Vermont communities consider declaring themselves "sanctuary cities," Attorney General T.J. Donovan released legal guidelines for local officials that present nuances to the debate.

On Tuesday, Plainfield, Hartland, Calais and East Montpelier are scheduled to debate curtailing local cooperation with federal immigration authorities, while officials in Richmond also expect discussion on the issue. Montpelier, Winooski, Burlington and South Burlington are also considering sanctuary status, but are not making any decisions on Town Meeting Day.

The model policies Donovan released Monday are meant to help those communities, concerned about President Donald Trump's ongoing attempts to crack down on potentially unlawful immigration, shape their strategies on the issue.

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Friday, March 3, 2017

'Mob' Attacks Middlebury Prof and Controversial Speaker Charles Murray

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 11:57 AM

Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
  • Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live stream
Updated at 3:30 p.m.

A violent "mob" attacked controversial author Charles Murray and a Middlebury College professor as they left a campus building Thursday night following a chaotic attempt at a lecture, a college spokesman said.

Professor Allison Stanger was assaulted and her neck was injured when someone pulled her hair as she tried to shield Murray from the 20 or 30 people who attacked the duo outside the McCullough Student Center, said Bill Burger, a vice president for communications at Middlebury College.

Burger said people in the crowd, made up of students and "outside agitators," wore masks as they screamed at Murray.

Murray wrote the controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve. A New York Times bestseller, the book sought to link social inequality to genetics. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers Murray a white nationalist.

"The demonstrators were trying to block Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger's way out of the building and to the car," Burger said. "It became a pushing and shoving match, with the officers trying to protect those two people from demonstrators — and it became violent."

"This was an incredibly violent confrontation," added Burger, who described the crowd as a "mob."

On Friday afternoon, Middlebury College president Laurie Patton sent a statement to all students, faculty and staff describing how "deeply disappointed" she was by the incident.

"I know that many students, faculty, and staff who were in attendance or waiting outside to participate were upset by the events, and the lost opportunity for those in our community who wanted to listen to and engage with Mr. Murray," she wrote, later adding: "I extend my sincerest apologies to everyone who came in good faith to participate in a serious discussion, and particularly to Mr. Murray and Prof. Stanger for the way they were treated during the event and, especially, afterward."

Murray had been invited and scheduled to speak at Wilson Hall Thursday afternoon. But a jeering and booing crowd of students turned their backs on him and shouted down his attempts to speak. After about 25 minutes, administrators resorted to plan B: moving Murray to a private room and streaming the video of his speech online.

Students continued to make a ruckus as Murray spoke from the private room with occasional questions from Stanger, a professor of international politics and economics.
Charles Murray and his controversial book - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Charles Murray and his controversial book
About half an hour after the event ended, Burger said, the two, accompanied by a college administrator and two public safety officers, tried to leave the building via a back entrance and hurry to a car. But protesters had surrounded various entrances and swarmed to the fleeing Murray and Stanger as they exited, he said.

Once Murray and Stanger were inside the car — and after Stanger had been assaulted — the crowd began jumping on the hood and banging on the windows, according to Burger. The driver tried to inch out of the parking space but the angry crowd surrounded the vehicle and tried to keep it from leaving.

Burger said someone threw a stop sign attached to a heavy cement base in front of the car. It finally got free of the crowd and then left campus.

Members of the Middlebury Police Department eventually arrived on scene, said Burger, who did not know of any arrests. He said members of the campus public safety department, who are unarmed, "put themselves in harm's way to permit this car to leave."

"It was a very, very dangerous situation," Burger said.

Senior college administrators held an emergency two-hour conference call Thursday night and another meeting is scheduled for this afternoon, Burger said. The school will look into arrests and other discipline for "what were clearly violations of our policy," both during the disruption of the lecture and the violent, chaotic aftermath, he said. Administrators plan to review video and pictures to discover who was involved.

"It's fair to say this is consuming a lot of our time," he said.

Stanger visited the emergency room for treatment of her injury and is now wearing a neck brace, Burger said. Murray was not injured, according to Burger.

Stanger did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Murray, who alluded to the incident Friday morning on Twitter.
"We were prepared for the disruption of event, which is why we prepared the backup plan for the live stream," Burger said. "We were caught by surprise by the violent acts as Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger left the building."

The Middlebury incident comes approximately one month after the University of California, Berkeley, canceled a planned lecture by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos amid violence. Some 1,500 people protested peacefully, according to the university, but approximately 150 "masked agitators" who used "paramilitary tactics, including hurling Molotov cocktails, setting fires, throwing fireworks at police, pushing barricades into windows and damaging campus and city property." The protesters there caused approximately $100,000 in damage to the campus, the university said.

"While we have made clear our belief that the inflaming rhetoric and provocations of Mr. Yiannopoulos were in marked opposition to the basic values of the university, we respected his right to come to campus and speak once he was invited to do so by a legitimate student group," Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement. "The violence last night was an attack on the fundamental values of the university, which stands for and helps to maintain and nurture open inquiry and an inclusive civil society, the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation."
Patton, the school president, attended Murray's lecture. Some booed her as she received a large round of applause and took the stage.

Patton said she "profoundly disagree(s) with several of Mr. Murray's views," but attended in support of free speech on Middlebury's campus.

"I know, from our community conversations of the last week, that there are some here who might wish to exercise their right to non-disruptive protest at Middlebury, and I wish to state, if you'd like to do so, please do," Patton said.

Alex Prolman, who helped organize the protest against Murray's lecture, said he is not a student but a "concerned community member." He helped write news releases and described his role as connecting students with members of the press for coverage of the event.

"There was a plan from the students that had emerged to prevent Murray from speaking, and I think they were largely successful in that," said Prolman, who attended the lecture.

Reached by phone Friday morning, Prolman, a Burlington resident, said he was headed to the Middlebury campus for a student meeting about next steps. He declined to say much about what happened outside the building.

"I'm still a little hesitant to comment on this at this point," he told Seven Days.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Graphic Tape Played in Court as McAllister Tries to Toss Plea Deal

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 7:25 PM

  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court in January
Former state senator Norm McAllister showed no emotion in court Friday as prosecutors played a graphic tape of a telephone conversation between him and his alleged victim in a sex-for-rent case.

During the 30-minute recording, the woman, a former farmhand at his Highgate dairy farm, sobs as she recounts a painful encounter with McAllister involving anal sex and another sex act. She asks him to agree not to seek that kind of sex from her in the future.

"I know I was basically forcing you to do something you didn't want to do," McAllister allegedly tells the woman at one point in the recorded conversation.

Prosecutors played the recording at Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans as McAllister's new legal team attempted to convince Judge Martin Maley to vacate a plea deal the former lawmaker agreed to last month in the sex case.

McAllister said his then-lawyers pressured him into accepting the deal, under which he pleaded no contest to two counts of prohibited acts and a felony lewd and lascivious charge, which prosecutors agreed to reduce from sexual assault. The lewd and lascivious charge carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison, while a sex assault conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Prosecutors to Drop 16 Cases After Burlington Cop 'Lied' About Stop

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 2:29 PM

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Updated on February 24, 2017.

Prosecutors will drop 16 pending criminal cases investigated by a Burlington police officer who resigned Monday after allegedly lying during a drug investigation. Authorities on Thursday said they are still considering whether to charge Christopher Lopez with perjury.

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George told reporters that Lopez — who allegedly made up a justification to search a vehicle in October — could no longer be a reliable witness.

"He lied," George said during a Thursday afternoon press conference in City Hall Park.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Burlington Cop Resigns After Perjury Allegation in Drug Case

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 4:57 PM

  • Oliver parini
A Burlington police officer who allegedly committed perjury during a drug investigation has resigned, the Burlington Police Department announced Wednesday.

In a letter to the Burlington Police Department, Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George said that patrol officer Christopher Lopez had made "patently false" statements in a sworn affidavit in October and would no longer be used as a witness by local prosecutors.

Officials said that Lopez falsely claimed that he smelled marijuana to justify a vehicle search that led to an arrest. The damning evidence came from the officer's own body camera audio, on which he can allegedly be heard conceding to another officer that he had made up the story.

Lopez, who joined the Burlington Police Department in September 2014, was placed on paid leave earlier this month. He resigned on Monday in advance of a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, police said. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said he planned to fire Lopez at that hearing.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vermonters Visit Muslim Canadian Family Turned Back at Border

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard - COURTESY OF ANDY SOLOMON
  • Courtesy of Andy Solomon
  • Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard
Richmond neurologist Andy Solomon and his family had participated in marches in Washington, D.C. and Montpelier, called their elected officials, and tried to find as many ways as possible in recent weeks to protest President Donald Trump's administration.

They were contemplating what to do next when Solomon saw a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that left him aghast.

Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen who is Muslim, her two children and an adult cousin were turned away at the border last week as they tried to go on a shopping trip to Burlington. Alaoui's parents live in Chicago, and she'd visited the U.S. on several occasions previously. But American border guards inspected her cellphone, quizzed her about Trump and her faith — and then wouldn't allow her in the country after waiting four hours to enter Highgate Springs, she told the CBC.

"He said, 'Do you practice? Which mosque do you go to?" she told the news outlet. "What is the name of the imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?'"

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