by Garret Ean
Feb 8 2012
Free Keene activists have often been portrayed as an alternative to the mainstream of whatever it is they’re compared to. In NH state politics, they are the ominous extreme that some politicians take care to avoid being associated with. In the city of Keene itself, always considered a more socialist and statist locality in New Hampshire, activists with that region’s liberty movement have had little influence over the rigidly ritual Keene city council. During a protest drinking game which featured water in glass bottles, Mayor Dale Pregent had activists arrested, though charges were later dropped. In recent history, there have not been any city council measures which have been either proposed or revoked as credited to Free Keene activism.
In the past few days, a story has been brewing over whether the city would accept hundreds of thousands in federal dollars to purchase an armored assault vehicle being marketed as a rescue vehicle. Though it was approved in December, because of one city councilor’s reluctance to take the money, the issue has been brought up again and has seen much opposition to the proposal from not just the liberty activist community, but from the greater Keene population.
The most telling aspect of this development over how Keene will spend its monopoly money is how the company producing the vehicle, Lenco, has responded. On February 3, Ian Freeman posted the article, Is the Bearcat a rescue vehicle, as was suggested by city councilors? In the article was embedded a marketing video made by Lenco of the Bearcat, and very militarized police, in action. The video features a home being gassed similarly to the methods used in the final assault on the Branch Davidian compound in 1993. All of this is scored to Thunderstruck by AC/DC (which was surely not an inexpensive license to obtain). When the city council discussed the Bearcat at meetings, it was labeled as a rescue vehicle. The difficult to watch video paints a very different picture of how the machine is used. It is clear that how the idea is pitched to the people who will be using it, and how it is pitched to the people whom it will be used on are two separate concepts.
There was a proposal to have the video played at the city council meeting, which was objected to by councilors. Lenco, in the meantime, has privatized the video, making it no longer accessible to the public through themselves. Fortunately, nothing ever really vanishes from the internet, and CopBlock has hosted a copy of the revealing video on their YouTube channel. In trying to obscure it, Lenco has just attracted even more eyes to the video. See the anti-art embedded below, if you care to.
Could this be the milestone of Free Keene activists and the general public teaming up to curb a very open encroachment of the police state? We’ll see how it all unfolds.
Feb 15 2012: Today WMUR posted coverage of resistance to the Bearcat, including footage of Free Keene activists singing, “Thanks, but no tanks”.