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.iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmigrantjustice%2Fposts%2F672048179968521&width=500″ width=”500″ height=”763″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allow=”encrypted-media”>
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.