1984 Island Pond Raid Documentary Video - a 75-minute Documentary
If you remember June 22, 1984, the day that 90 Vermont State Troopers and 50 social workers invaded the small Northeast Kingdom village of Island Pond and seized 112 children, you will want to see this film and gain some understanding of how and why this grossly unconstitutional event happened. It was 1984, after all. This documentary was produced last year by Jean Swantko who was a public defender on that day twenty-one years ago. She was inadvertently ensnared in the raid since she was a community visitor the night before.
Twelve of the now-grown “children of the raid” share their raid-day memories as well as speak of the choices they have made since that time. Interviews with participant lawyers, police officers and new religious movement scholars substantiate the fact that the raid was an illegal and deliberately coordinated move by Vermont State government, influenced by unreliable, anti-religious zealots who had a “sure-fire plan” to destroy the Church in Island Pond by stealing its children. The charges of child abuse, fueled by the media, were inflammatory and never substantiated. Even if you are too young to remember this piece of Vermont history, you will still learn something from it.
In reference to the 1984 Raid, columnist Peter Freyne of Burlington’s Seven Days commented in his July 27 column entitled “When Big Brother Ran Vermont” that
the largest government-sanctioned kidnapping in U.S. history was launched. But the bright stars of the Snelling administration simply didn't do their homework. They and the politically ambitious Orleans County State's Attorney Philip White had treated the Island Pond Christians as guilty until proven innocent. As it turned out, the only thing they were guilty of was being different.
Freyne calls the documentary “well worth watching.”
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