White supremacist who harassed Black ex-Vermont state rep will not be charged
The harassment was so bad that Kiah Morris abruptly resigned her position, but "the First Amendment does not make speech sanctionable merely because its content is objectionable.”
Kiah Morris, Vermont’s only black female state representative who resigned amid years of harassment by a local white supremacist, found out that the man who has been tormenting her will not be charged with a hate crime, according to the Burlington Free Press.
“The online communications that were sent to Ms. Morris by Max Misch and others were clearly racist and extremely offensive,” Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said Monday. “However, the First Amendment does not make speech sanctionable merely because its content is objectionable.”
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Misch, wearing a black shirt emblazoned with Pepe the Frog—an adopted meme for White Supremacists online–showed up at the press conference taking another opportunity to antagonize Morris. Misch sent Morris hundreds of harassing online messages over a two-year period, starting in 2016.
The harassment was so pervasive that Morris sought, and was granted, a one-year restraining order against him in 2016. Once the order ended, Misch resumed harassing Morris to the point where she abruptly resigned in September.
Donovan released a 10-page report documenting the racist messages Morris and her husband received from Misch and others. The details of the report showed a family living in constant fear and suspicion.
“Go back to Africa, it’s the only place you’ll ever be safe,” one message said, according to the report.
Donovan also said that Morris’s car and home had also been burglarized and that items had been stolen, but there was not enough physical evidence to identify any suspects or bring charges for those offenses. It was apparently a game to Misch.
“I like trolling people — it’s fun,” he told the Burlington Free Press.
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Donovan, while acknowledging that the First Amendment protects racist hate speech, he also acknowledged that what Morris dealt with is wrong and it was incumbent on the people in Vermont – one of the whitest states in the nation.
“For people in positions of power in Vermont, who are white, mostly male and mostly from a Christian background, we have to acknowledge that the lived experience of people of color and other backgrounds and heritages are different,” Donovan said before Misch’s interruption. “We must listen to their lived experience.”