'Awareness Walk' aims to reclaim sense of comfort

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BRATTLEBORO — In the wake of a resident's report of her cell phone being smashed on the sidewalk, Brattleboro Housing Partnership is hosting an "awareness walk" from the Samuel Elliot Apartments to Main Street and back.

"We are doing the walk because one of our residents was accosted by a group blocking the sidewalk," Christine Hart, executive director of the partnership, wrote in an email to the media. "She was just trying to get to Main Street and uses a walker and they smashed her phone when she said she would call the police. The SEA residents are now fearful of walking out to Main Street."

The awareness walk is set for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

"The purpose of the walk is to help our residents feel comfortable walking on the street and to support their right to do so without fear or harassment," Hart wrote. "Some members of the [Brattleboro] Select Board and [the Brattleboro Housing Partnership] Board are going to be joining our residents and staff. We don't see this as a demonstration but as a very peaceful way to assert the rights of our residents to feel safe on the sidewalks."

Tenants of the apartments are already making signs, which include statements such as Community Awareness, Share the Sidewalk, Safety is Everyone's Responsibility, We Live Here Too and Make Room for Us.

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Hart told the Reformer that the incident was reported to the police but right after the phone was smashed, the group broke up and dispersed. No identifications were made at the time.

"This was unusual," Hart told the Reformer. "It doesn't just affect that one person. Everybody gets worried about it."

The walk Tuesday is being organized by Lorelei Morrissette, who works for the housing partnership as a resident opportunity and self-sufficiency and support and services at-home coordinator.

"Our residents are elderly and frail and some have disabilities," Hart said. "We want them to feel empowered that they have a right to Elliot Street just as everyone else does. We are supporting them to help them reclaim that sense of comfort."

The public is invited to participate in the walk. For more information, email Morrissette at lmorrissette@brattleborohousing.org.


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