Authorities ushered a man out of a Vermont courtroom after he boldly interrupted court proceedings to condemn a judge for releasing an avowed white supremacist who keeps defying court orders banning him from buying guns.
On July 22, self-proclaimed white nationalist Max Misch pleaded not guilty in a Bennington, Vt., Superior Court for violating the conditions of his release on previous gun-possession charges, according to the Brattleboro Reformer. Sworn statements from Misch’s wife and a local gun store allege that Misch purchased a handgun for $350 on March 30, less than two months after a judge banned Misch from buying firearms following Misch’s February arrest for possessing illegal, large-capacity ammunition devices.
During Misch’s arraignment, not only did Judge William D. Cohen disregard the previous court order that spelled out conditions for Misch’s previous bail, he also ignored the state attorney general’s request for a $200 bail on the current charges. Perhaps inspired by Misch’s choice of courtroom attire—a T-shirt that read “FUCK GUN CONTROL”—Cohen imposed no bail at all, only ordering the white supremacist not to “enter any place [where] the primary business is selling firearms or dangerous/deadly weapons.”
“This is unfair,” shouted Shawn Pratt, a Bennington resident who spoke out as soon as the judge made his decision. “He’s violent and he should be locked up but you keep letting him walk out of here.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Misch can be heard yelling in the video by VTDigger, a nonprofit project of the Vermont Journalism Trust.
“My nephew was in jail a whole year, your honor,” Pratt continued as Vermont state troopers escort him out of the courtroom. “Keep up these racial disparities, guys...we’re watching all of you!”
“I was in there specifically to find out what was going to happen with this guy,” Pratt told The Root. “My nephew was held without any evidence, without any witnesses, without any weapon for a whole year awaiting trial. Meanwhile, this guy is a known violent person. My thing is, why can’t we get the same kind of treatment?
“I’m into social justice and I can see all of these disparities going on, but I wanted to see it in the flesh,” explained Pratt. “If it was me or anybody else, they would have let us sit there, even if we didn’t have a violent crime...especially if we kept violating court orders.”
Frederick Bragdon, the public defender representing Misch, argued that the white nationalist was not a flight risk because he liked the attention, explaining: “I’m sure as long as the press keeps coming, he’ll also be here.”
The 36-year-old Misch describes himself as a “white nationalist” and “the man who be representin dem white muhfuckaz of Bennington,” and admitted to “trolling” former Vermont State Rep. Ruqaiyah “Kiah” Morris, who decided not to run for re-election in 2018, in part because of Misch’s online and in-person harassment. In a 10-page report, Vermont Attorney General T.J Donovan acknowledged that Misch’s harassment of Morris was “clearly racist and offensive,” but declined to prosecute Misch “because of the free speech protections afforded under the First Amendment.” When Donavan held the press conference with Morris to announce this decision, Misch showed up…
...and harassed Kiah Morris.
Days after that press conference, Vermont law enforcement officers began investigating allegations that Misch had traveled to nearby New Hampshire to purchase large-capacity gun magazines, which are banned in Vermont. A coalition of gun-rights organizations is challenging the ban, which is why the judge claims he freed Misch with no bail. However, the state has already denied Misch’s claim that his arrest violated his right to bear arms. Morris notes that Misch is a proud member of a local white supremacist group and has continued his three-year campaign of harassment against her, despite a restraining order against him.
“This just reaffirms that it’s not safe for me or my family,” Morris told The Root on Monday. “[It shows] that we aren’t granted and afforded the same protections that other people have and that the justice system is deeply flawed.
“He’s not going to feel any repercussions for anything that he did regarding me and my family, at all,” said Morris. “This has become an entire debate around guns and firearms. It has been determined by the attorney general’s office that pursuing justice with regards to racial harassment, intimidation and threats is not worthy of taking to the Supreme Court and forcing them to re-examine this. But firearms are.
“One of those gets you elected into office,” added Morris. “The other one does not.”