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Vermont Governor Apologizes On Behalf Of His State After Incident Involving Black Family With Out-Of-State License Plate

Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

The existence of racial bias in the United States has been well established by statistics kept by the FBI and the Justice Department.

People of color are more likely to be viewed as suspicious, stopped, questioned, confronted, detained, charged, convicted, imprisoned and killed when engaged in identical activities as their White counterparts.


An incident in Vermont is drawing a spotlight on racial bias once again.

Law enforcement and media coverage are two areas where racial bias can be easily identified, studied and documented.

In daily life, the proof is harder to display for people who insist there is no bias and that racism doesn't exist. Even when a black jogger is chased and killed, some people will insist race was not a factor.

Such people see news articles or even videos about incidents of racial bias and decry them as fake news.





Despite people who insist it can't be true, the incident prompted Republican Governor Phil Scott to issue an apology "on behalf of the state of Vermont" to a family from Hartford, Vermont after they were harassed while driving a car with New York license plates and told "the governor did not want them [in Vermont]."

Governor Scott said:

"And … they were, amongst other things, told they were not welcome here and that the governor did not want them here either. And sadly this happened in front of their 11-year-old child."
"Even more disturbing was the racial undertone used during this exchange with the individual, who is a person of color."
"So let me be very clear: This is not acceptable and it can't be tolerated and there's no excuse for it."

Scott clarified that he asked people with family in Vermont or with second homes in the state should not violate stay at home orders to try to come to Vermont.



Scott added Vermonters should welcome everyone, however.

"This virus cannot be used as an excuse for hate, bigotry or division of any type for any reason. We cannot let this become an us-versus-them situation, and I want to make sure everyone hears that."


In March, the governor said:

"We can't let this become an us-versus them view of the world."
"That's not who we are as Americans and certainly not as Vermonters, and we shouldn't let anything change that."

Scott's more recent comments were to:

"[Clear up] any misconception about my views, because my name was inferred in [the incident]."

Governor Scott also took to his Twitter account to address the need for civility.








Vermont State Police are investigating the harassment of the family. They are Vermont residents, but still drive a car with New York license plates.

Many state Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices are closed across the country. Each state is handling the issuing of and renewal of licenses, license plates and vehicle registrations in different ways.

The book Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice is available here.