“Our focus is always on the person coming to us who needs our help,” Bielefeld said.
At Burlington schools, where the BCDR has been concentrated almost since its inception, “the BCDR is not here to be thrown under the bus,” Bielefeld said. “I hope we can find a way to work together.”
State officials ruled over the summer that the BCDR should be involved in the school district’s anti-racism response.
While city and schools government officials as well as anti-racism organizers have said they want to work together, real collaboration is rare.
When the city formed a task force to combat racism in Burlington, the BCDR almost had a seat at the table, but the group backed out after concerns about the consulting firm chosen to lead the effort. And the city did not abandon the firm.
“They haven’t joined us at their table… so we’ve made our table,” Bielefeld said.
Of those incidents, Garbade said pushed her to leave Burlington, with Bielefeld saying she knew she could be a target. “I am very aware of the situation in which I am putting myself,” she said, noting that her safety – and the safety of her son who still lives in Burlington – will be paramount.