Bridport men plead not guilty to harassing migrant workers

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Three Bridport men were arraigned Monday for their alleged involvement in a string of crimes that police say targeted migrant farmworkers in Addison County.

Christopher Thompson, 26, Christian Leggett, 19, and Bryan Ashley-Shelleck, 26, pleaded not guilty to third-degree arson, aggravated stalking, petit larceny and providing false information to officers.

Police said the incidents, which took place in August, were part of a feud between local farm families over a fishing area.

But the advocacy group Migrant Justice says the workers are victims of racist attacks. The group posted pictures of slashed tires and broken air conditioning units to Facebook.

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They say the men also fired guns into the air, creating fear among the farming community.

No bias-related criminal crimes were filed. However, Vermont State Police reported the case to the Attorney General’s Office as a potential hate crime, which could trigger civil enforcement by state and federal authorities. All three men are due back in court at a later date.

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