Vermont Farm Worker Danilo Lopez Receives Human Rights Hero Award at Human Rights Conference drawing hundreds of Vermonters
Posted Mon, 12/12/2011 - 4:10pm
Saturday, December 10- Burlington, VT-- After being arrested and detained just 3 months ago Danilo Lopez was recognized for his work standing up for the human rights of Vermont's migrant workers at a big Human Rights Conference on Saturday. Upon receiving the award Lopez told the packed house of at least 300 Vermonters, who gave him a rowdy standing ovation, "Thanks to all the support and solidarity we are creating important human rights changes for all. One of those is the new Bias-Free-Policing policy that directs police to stop acting as immigration agents and to not discriminate based on a persons skin color by asking them about their legal status."
The conference On December 10, marked international Human Rights Day and took place at the University of Vermont sponsored by Students Stand Up and the Vermont Workers’ Center (VWC) featuring dozens of workshops, panel discussions, a human rights rally, and celebration dinner and the premiere of a new film about community responses after the Tropical Storm Irene disaster. James Haslam, of the VT Workers' Cener explained, “Everyday we are hearing from new people in Vermont and across this country who are excited to join a growing movement of people fed up with the status quo. More and more of us are realizing that when you have a system that produces obscene wealth for 1% at the expense of 99% and the planet, you need a new system,” said James Haslam, Director of the Vermont Workers’ Center.
The VT Workers' Center, leader of the Health Care is a Human Right Campaign, which helped push Vermont towards a new Universal Health Care plan, recognized various projects and initiatives at the event demonstrating the diversity of organizations and initiatives coming together under the Human Rights banner in Vermont. Lopez, was singled out due to his courageous and outspoken reaction to his own racial profiling, from which he emerged a migrant farm worker community leader and spokesperson and helped organize to create the new State Police Policy. Furthermore, just a week ago the VT Human Rights Commission unanimously determined that the VT State Police clearly discriminated against Lopez and his cousin Antonio-Meza Sandoval during a traffic stop on September 13 on I-89 in Middlesex, VT. After receiving the award he shared, “I am happy and proud to be recognized by this community that I am now a part of. Its another push to keep up the struggle for immigrant rights.”
Through grassroots campaigns like Healthcare is a Human Right and Put People First! The People’s Budget campaign, Vermont’s human rights movement has seen explosive growth and has made connections with counterparts around the country. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Vermont Workers' Center cut up an over-sized version of their Bank of America Credit Card and announced a move to a local credit union. There were ten well attended workshops on topics such as Workers Rights and the Right to Education for the 99%, Healthcare Is a Human Right, The Labor Behind the Milk Jug: Building Solidarity for Migrant Justice in Vermont, Building Neighbors Who Care: Anti-Racism/ Anti-Oppression Work in Our Movement and Human Right to a Healthy Environment & Livable Planet.
There was also a lively panel featuring Senator Bernie Sanders and members from Students Stand Up, Put People First Campaign & Mobile Home Residents for Equality and Fairness, Migrant Justice, 350 Vermont, Vermont Center for Independent Living, Green Mountain Self Advocates, United Workers (Baltimore) and Occupy Wall Street/NYC and CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities. Organizers also launched an official new project called Vermont Parents United. At the celebration dinner that evening, the premiere of “Strength of the Storm”, captivated the audience documenting the impact of Tropical Storm Irene on Vermont communities.
James Haslam, VT Workers Center, 802.272.0882
Brendan O'Neill, VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project, 802.825.1609/802-658-6770
Spanish Language Media: Justicia Migrante, Danilo Lopez, 802.777.0938/802-658-6770
More Information: Danilo Lopez and the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project, migrantjustice.net
December 10 Conference: www.workerscenter.org/december10 or call (802) 861-4892. Watch trailer for Strength of the Storm at www.strengthofthestorm.org