BRATTLEBORO >> Two local men and one woman have been appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to represent the state of Vermont.
According to a press release from the commission, Curtiss Reed Jr. and Terry Martin, both of Brattleboro, and Rosario M. de Swanson, of Marlboro, will be members of a 15-member delegation led by Diane B. Snelling, of Hinesburg, who served as a Republican member of the Vermont Senate, representing Chittenden County.
Reed is the executive director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity. Martin is a former law enforcement officer in the area. De Swanson is a professor of Spanish language and literature at Marlboro College.
"I am glad that we are able to continue working together as a group representative of our state's diversity," said Reed. "The wit and wisdom of Marion Milne will be sorely missed when we reconvene this fall. I look forward to releasing an update on our 2009 briefing on racial profiling by law enforcement, further examination of housing discrimination, and map out a strategy to conduct briefings on the criminal justice system at large."
State Advisory Committees produce reports and recommendations concerning statewide or local civil rights issues, including justice, voting, discrimination, housing and education. Congress mandates the appointment of members to state advisory committees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Appointees to State Advisory Committees serve four-year terms and are unremunerated.
"I served in the State Advisory Committee before and I am very pleased to serve again," said de Swanson. "In the past, our committee worked on issues of housing discrimination and racial profiling. I hope to continue working with the committee on these and other issues that affect our community. As an immigrant from Mexico who has gone through a lot, I am keenly aware of these realities; but, serving and giving back is my way to be joyful and thankful for everything that has been given to me."
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing a federal civil rights enforcement report. For more information, visit www.usccr.gov.
"I have served on the Vermont Advisory Committee or the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights since 2007, some nine years now," said Martin. "I thank Curtiss Reed, who nominated me to the Commission back then. My input brings the law enforcement perceptive to the Committee, having worked on the local, county, state and federal levels of it. Further, my connections thereto, helps to bridge the gap to the various agencies as to their policies, protocol and relationships."
Martin said the Committee has helped bring to the forefront bias-based policing in local law enforcement and fair and impartial policing with the Vermont State Police.
"Both Curtiss and I serve on the State Police's Fair and Impartial Policing Committee," he said. "There, we have initiated studies through Dr. Jack McDevitt and Janice Iwama, out of Northeastern University, who have and are presently studying the last five years of Vehicular Stops by the Vermont State Police as to their biases. That study goes forward."
Martin said in June and July of 2008, the Committee, with Tara O'Brien, who is no longer a member, produced a briefing report, which led to 2009's "Racial Profiling in Vermont."
"Since then we have continued to study, hold hearings and received testimony from all levels of law enforcement and the general public," said Martin.