I am deeply concerned about the militarization of the police around this country. I was strongly opposed to the city of Keene purchasing a BearCat. It seemed to me that Keene had no need for it, and the justifications provided didn’t hold water. It seems I was correct. Keene has never used the BearCat.
I was horrified to read that the Boston Police Dept. brought a sound cannon with them when they busted up the Occupy Boston encampment. Occupy was a non-violent movement. The people in that camp had no weapons. The idea of a sound cannon being brought along to use on peaceful protestors is shocking. Equally shocking is the fact that the now-defunct Boston Phoenix was the only media outlet to report on it.
These are some of the reasons why I was opposed to the City of Concord getting a grant for a BearCat. The sweetheart contractor deal that LENCO gets – because they know what congresscritters to bribe makes me ill. It’s Pentagon pork – filtered through the Dept. of Homeland Security. The grant application naming certain groups as potential domestic terrorist threats was also upsetting, but not as much as militarization and pork.
So, with all that in mind, I went to the Concord City Council hearing on the purchase of the Bearcat. I did not expect to be swayed by Chief Duval’s presentation, but I was.
The BearCat is intended to replace the 1970’s vintage armored Peacekeeper that the Concord PD has. This can’t be called increased militarization - it’s replacing old equipment. The current armored vehicle goes out on calls where there are hostages, where armed individuals are shooting, and other equally dangerous situations. It is not an “attack” vehicle. It is a tool employed to protect the lives of police officers and emergency responders.
But wait – this is Concord – a small peaceful city, right? That’s true. But Concord has something that no other city in the state has. The NH State House. Concord is our capitol city. Visiting dignitaries visit our capitol. Nearly every presidential candidate visits our state capitol. And this year, nearly every month (so far) there has been a big demonstration in front of the State House by gun nuts.
And then there was June 19, 2013, when gun nuts violently disrupted a peaceful vigil in front of the NH State House.
And then there was my eyewitness account of this event:
It was a scary scene. I’m still amazed that no one was injured or killed there. The gun crowd was out of control – illustrating why some of us support expanded background checks. It’s likely that many of the participants in that melee couldn’t pass a background check on the best day they ever had.
Then there’s the fact that the State House has no metal detectors. Many legislators and visitors are armed.
I understand why Chief Duval wants this armored vehicle.
I do not support the contractor/Pentagon/DSH pork. I do not support the increased militarization of police. After listening to the chief and thinking about our capitol city, I no longer view this particular instance as increased militarization. It absolutely was increased militarization in Keene.
I left the City Council hearing feeling really uncomfortable. I was disgusted with the histrionics of the Free Staters and their allies. I was disgusted with State Representatives George Lambert and JR Hoell for inserting themselves into an issue of local control – and they aren’t local. Lambert (who wants to put the goober in goobernatorial) wanted to show the video of the drunken heckler being tased in front of the State House thinking it would stop the Concord City Council from approving the BearCat. I tend to think that if they saw that video they’d order a few extra BearCats as backup.