Building Empathy and Addressing Racial Oppression

Our upcoming 3-part workshop Building Empathy and Addressing Racial Oppression looks to tackling an issue that runs deeper than many are able to comfortably address. Myriad issues around white fragility, privilege, and holding meaningful discussion that transcend feelings of guilt and shame are central to asking ourselves how we can move toward an anti-oppressive society.  Facilitators Francine Serwili-Ngunga and Kyle Silliman-Smith will lead workshop participants through this labyrinth of questions including how identify and acknowledge racial bias and creating tools and guidelines that help us move toward an anti-oppressive society.

Below is a short video about a scenario involving where white privilege might be used to address racial bias.

Register for our workshop Building Empathy and Addressing Racial Oppression by clicking here or call 802-863-2345 x6.

Drone Quilt Block Making Party and Screening of “Wounds of Waziristan” in Huntington


The Peace & Justice Center will be hosting a Drone Quilt Block Making Party with a special screening of the film “Wounds of Waziristan” at the Huntington Public Library on Thursday, December 10th from 6:30 to 8:30.

In addition to the opportunity to see this illuminating film and participate in an action to raise awareness about drones, attendees will also be able to engage in conversations with members of the Peace & Justice Center about drone violence and surveillance within and outside of the United States. We hope you can join us for this purpose-driven and illuminating event!

More about the film:
This documentary film, directed by Madiha Tahir, examines the lives of the survivors of U.S. drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. It illustrates the psychological and physical devastation that haunts the people of this region on a daily basis. Watch the trailer here.

More about the Drone Quilt:
Victims of U.S. drone strikes are labeled as “collateral damage”, or often times labeled as “militants” without any significant evidence, both of these labels dehumanize people. To honor the victims of drone attacks communities are encouraged to host quilt block making parties to come together and commemorate lives taken by these weapons. Quilt squares will be collected and put together for the VT Drone Quilt and tour nationally with the Drone Quilt Project, showing that Vermonters are standing in solidarity with victims of U.S. drone strikes. Learn more here.

Come join us for a Surveillance Drones Presentation at the Peace & Justice Center!

Surveillance technology in the United States is extremely advanced, and its newest up-and-coming tool comes in the form of drones. There is relatively little legislation surrounding the private, commercial, and governmental usage of drones, and in order to keep pace with the drone industry, which is increasing exponentially from year to year, there is a serious need for the creation of regulations and restrictions surrounding this new technology. To help build awareness and motivate the Burlington community to take preemptive action to prevent drone surveillance in the city, we are hosting a Surveillance Drones Presentation on Thursday, December 3rd at 6pm at our local office at 60 Lake Street on the waterfront.

This presentation offers a basic overview of the history of surveillance in the U.S., how it is currently used, privacy laws, surveillance drone technology, and what to expect from the growing access to and use of drones in the coming years. It will highlight how surveillance technology is growing faster than the infrastructure that seeks to secure rights of people here in the United States. It will be followed by a Q&A and discussion of upcoming and ongoing policy work, statewide as well as here in Chittenden County

Legislation surrounding surveillance and drone usage domestically was introduced to the Vermont State Senate during the 2015-2016 term (S.18, Act 32) by Senator Tim Ashe and Senator Joe Benning, but the only portion that was passed into law was a small section regarding license plate readers. This October, meetings about the other sections of this bill are held at the Statehouse. It is likely that the portion of the bill relating to drone use will be very similar, if not completely the same, as the language in the original draft. On a more local level, we at the Peace & Justice Center are working on a resolution to restrict the usage of drones. The organization is currently working with City Councilors in Burlington and Winooski as well as community members in other cities and towns throughout Vermont. Until these pieces of legislation are made into law, Vermonters are vulnerable to privacy violations through drone use. Community education is a key aspect of the ability to mobilize and protect our rights as technology advances faster than policy.

Social Justice Award Ceremony and Party



The war on drugs is a hoax, a failure and a tool for oppression. Come celebrate the amazing work being done locally to expose this injustice and to reform our prisons.

Saturday, November 21st from 7pm-Midnight: Social Justice Award Ceremony and Party. Main Street Landing Union Station, 1 Main Street, Burlington. Allen Gilbert of VT-ACLU will present the Ed Everts Award to Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and Eugene Jarecki. Entertainment featuring DJs Melo Grant and Infinite Culcleasure. Chili, Indian fry-bread, beer, silent art auction and more!

Presented by Allen Gilbert, Executive Director of Vermont’s ACLU chapter, the award honors Eugene Jarecki for his film The House I Live In which is described by media critics as “a shattering case against the War on Drugs” and an “attack on America’s War on Drugs [that] contends it is a grotesquely wasteful public-works scheme.” Since its release in 2012 the film has won the Grand Jury Prize for a Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival as well as a Peabody Award in 2014.

The Social Justice Activist Award also honors Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform for their dedicated work to advance criminal justice reform in the Green Mountain State. In working toward a more restorative and effective criminal justice response, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform has highlighted racial bias in our policing and sentencing practices and has consistently called upon the State to end its use of private prisons. Additionally, they have also served as a vehicle for inmates and families to have a voice before the press, the Department of Corrections, and the legislature.

“The war on drugs is a hoax and a failure. Our incarceration rate is out of control. It is fueling and fueled by corporate interests. It’s time we stand up against these systems of economic and racial injustice,” said Peace & Justice Center Executive Director Rachel Siegel. “Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and Eugene Jarecki are doing this,” she continued. “I’m excited that we can shine a light on their work and celebrate together. It’s time for a party!”

Tickets range from $25-$500 are available through or through in-store purchase at the Peace & Justice Store, 60 Lake Street. Free for people living with convictions or who have incarcerated family members. Also free for high school students and younger.

Get your tickets online:


Tickets also available in store at 60 Lake Street or by phone 863-2345 x8.

Sponsored by Citizen Cider, Switchback Ale, Vermont Tent Company, WRUV and Main Street Landing.

Vigil to Shut Down the School of the Americas

In 1946 The School of the Americas (currently known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation  began training Latin American soldiers in “counterinsurgency operations” out of Fort Benning Georgia. Upon returning to their home countries, many of these soldiers used the training the received at SOA to support or lead brutal military dicatorships in Latin America and commit numerous human rights violations including mass killing, torture,  disappearances, and union busting. By the year 2000, ten Latin American dictators had attended the School of the Americas at some point including those from Argentina, Boliva, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

On Saturday, November 21st from Noon to 1:15 at City Hall the Peace & Justice Center will join with Northeast Sisters of Mercy and Pax Christi Burlington to remember the more than 200,000 victims of School of the Americas graduates.

Our vigil to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas where tactics of terror and death squads have been part of the curriculum, demands Congress finally shut down the School of Assassins as it is known throughout Latin America.

While the school remains open, the stain on the soul of this country continues to spread and deepen. Nothing can undo the cruelty and murders of the past, we must struggle for a renewed sense of human decency and repentance in our nation and close the School of the Americas.