While Robin Hooders prepare to spend a full day in court, this evening Concord city bureaucrats will hold the public hearing on the now infamous BEARCAT grant sought by the police. At 7pm, the public meeting is slated to begin at the council chambers on Green Street. Check out the informative response from Occupy New Hampshire, reformed following the decision to label them a terrorist group by the local police, who gathered to express their opposition to militarism and corporate protectionism. Additional coverage has recently run in Mother Jones, The Washington Times, Common Dreams, and The Boston Liberal. As posted to the Concord-NH.patch.com:
Participants and sympathizers of what was the Occupy New Hampshire movement are shocked to learn that the city of Concord considers us a potential threat to public safety and that we “present daily challenges.” In fact, the city considers us such a threat that it filed a fraudulent grant request to purchase a quarter of a million dollar armored attack vehicle to protect the community from non violent activists in this state.
Occupy NH established an explicit nonviolent ethic at its onset. No ONH event has ever witnessed a single act of violence. Furthermore, while Chief Duval claims that this is for the protection of the citizens of Concord, and wonders about the concern of citizens outside of Concord, he made this process a statewide issue and invited non-Concord residents to participate in the discussion and decision making process by targeting statewide organizations such as Occupy New Hampshire, and the Free State Project.
This entire process represents exactly the type of corruption and corporate welfare that Occupy has so vocally opposed since its inception and part of the reason why our elected officials no longer have the people’s confidence.
The Lenco business model is an example of a corrupt and wasteful federal government in which lobbyists vie for priority in funding. In fact, *Chief Executive Officer of LENCO, Len Light, brags that “Homeland security grants have significantly boosted sales.” Without specifying precise figures, Light said, “annual sales are about $40 million.” These grants from the Department of Homeland Security Budget to purchase military style equipment that is both unnecessary and excessive for dealing with peaceful populations such as the one in New Hampshire. They lobby in DC and then convince local towns to apply for these grants, and claim it’s for your safety. A 300k grant for safety would be better utilized in New Hampshire to train police officers in non-violent communication and de-escalation tactics.
Should Concord need access to a BEARCAT, one resides in Concord currently for the Statewide Special Operations Department and up the road there are several such vehicles at the National Guard less than 2 miles away. Concord could and should exemplify how not to waste resources on unnecessary weaponry. At this time, there is also a BEARCAT in Keene, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth.
What is most alarming about this grant is the intent of the grant. While the City of Concord is not utilizing local tax dollars to purchase the BEARCAT, it does come with strings attached. In addition to receiving this counter attack truck, the police force also agrees to receiving DHS training which further militarizes the police force. The ongoing militarization of our police force is a threat to us all. There is and should be a clear difference between the mission statements and parameters of the military and the police. A military unit’s mission is “to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat,” according to the Soldier’s Creed. Local police are expected to “protect and serve,” according to their creeds. The incorporation of military equipment and military training indicates a police view that peaceful NH citizens with something to say are in fact enemies to be subdued and destroyed.
The result of this process to purchase a BEARCAT is further alienation of the police force from those they are supposed to serve and protect. As such, it carries a bone chilling effect on protest in New Hampshire. As active citizens, it is our right and our duty to speak out against our government when it is not representing our interests. To target protest with military style equipment is to target those rights inherent to us. The right to free speech is an inalienable right, not granted to us by the government or by any institution of government, but protected by it. The acquisition of an attack vehicle in response to peaceful activist groups sends a strong message that dissent will be met with force. That the first amendment of the United States Constitution is only to be upheld when in line with current power structures. We & fellow citizens cherish our rights to free speech and assembly and will non-violently defend them despite intimidation tactics.
Occupy New Hampshire
on this date convened,
09 August 2013