Vermont's state legislature only had one female black lawmaker. Now, there are none—because Kiah Morris quit last month amid a rash of apparent vandalism, home invasions, and racially fueled threats. "There were individuals in the community and throughout the state that we were finding were parts of white supremacist groups," she tells the BBC. Because Vermont is considered so progressive, she says, "we just sort of fell asleep and didn't pay attention to that." Elected in 2014 to represent the town of Bennington, Morris abruptly scuttled her re-election campaign in August and quit altogether in September due to "continued harassment" and her husband's health issues, she wrote on Facebook. Now she's divulging the details.
Her family suffered home invasions and found swastikas painted on nearby trees, Morris recently told the New York Times. She also got a restraining order against an online harasser, but the threats kept coming. The 42-year-old Chicago native says her support for gun control legislation—which beefed up background checks and banned bump stocks and large magazines when it passed in April—led to an intolerable level of threats and harassment. Colleagues and friends tried to stop her from quitting, and Vermont's governor, Republican Phil Scott, said he'd support her campaign because hate would win if she stepped down, but Morris wasn't buying it. "These are incredibly violent times, and I do not feel any need to martyr myself or my family," she says. "...So I win because I chose to take my life back." (Meanwhile, a transgender candidate is making history in Vermont.)