This was the crowd in front of City Hall when I arrived at 6:15. All of the fliers and notices I saw about the protest said to be there at 6:00 pm. About a dozen people were milling around in the little park near the City Hall Annex next door:
This is Will Thomas (of NH Veterans For Peace) and his great tee shirt. To Will's front left is a tall man with a blue blazer. That's State Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton. (Dunbarton is not part of Concord)
Finally, at 6:39, a big procession of Free Staters began coming up the street. They all began to assemble in front of Concord City Hall. (pro tip: if your lit says 6 pm, you should be there at 6 pm)
There was a guy with a bullhorn who sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. I have no idea what he was saying. Carla Gericke spoke. She did not give any of the other groups represented the opportunity to address the crowd, even though there were Occupiers and people from NH Peace Action. This was all about the Free State Project and their BIG HURT FEELINGS.
This was supposed to be about the BearCat, military contractors, waste, and the militarization of police.
The FSP does not play well with others.
The City Council chambers filled quickly. Some of us were stuck in the hallway for a while, and couldn't really hear what was going on. The Council and the City Manager were very polite and welcoming, and clear that if everyone that wanted to testify did, there would be no decision made that night.
I've already written about FSP President Carla Gericke's testimony. Other notables included Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton, and Rep. George Lambert from Litchfield. As I listened, I couldn't help but wonder what Hoell would think if say...Rick Watrous or Mary Jane Wallner came to tell the Dunbarton Selectmen what to do. Hoell wanted Chief Duval to know that Washington DC was turned around by the police getting involved with the citizens of the community. A less charitable person than myself might have found Hoell's comments patronizing.
Even better than Hoell was Rep. George Lambert. Lambert wants to be our next governor, so he's seizing every single opportunity to get his face on camera, in a bid to increase his non-existant name recognition. (note to Lambert: not all publicity is good publicity.)
Lambert told the Council and the assembled throng that they should watch the video of the man who was tased out in front of the State House in June "for using his right to free speech." Lambert actually wanted to play them the video! The voices in his head told him that if folks saw this video, they'd understand injustice and police brutality! I was at the event in question, and I'm pretty sure that if the Council had seen footage of that near riot, they'd approve that BearCat (and possibly a few more) without further consideration. Apparently verbal harassment, resisting arrest, and grabbing at cops are all part of the famed Non-Aggression Principle that our FSP colonizers are so fond of citing.
And of course, just like Hoell, one can't help but wonder what Lambert would make of Concord State Reps appearing to tell the good people of Litchfield what they ought to be doing. The exercise of free speech appears to be a one-way street for the Free Staters and their allies.
A suggestion was made that the grant application be changed to remove the language that was offending people. Somehow that turned into a sidebar in the corner with a City Councilor, Carla Gericke, and desperate attention seekers Lambert, and Hoell. This went on for quite a while until another member of the Council objected strenuously to the sidebar, and the possibility of some sort of secret deal. The sidebar broke up. Lambert and Hoell lacked sufficient shame and grace to walk away. They hovered right there in the corner where the Council sits.
That's them in the far right (!)
I left at 10. I'd heard enough, and I was feeling sickened by the whole thing. I'll write more about that later on.
The Council adjourned without decision, and have since stated that they'll have a special session on this matter in September.
Anyone who wants a refresher on the gun nuts staging a near riot in front of the State House in June will find pictures and video in these links:
Photos from the Gun Melee in June 2013