This week, we fill you in on egregious violations of your Right-to-Know by discussing three current cases in front of the NH Supreme Court (read more here), how use of force compares between law enforcement on the streets of America and soldiers in combat zones (the rules of engagement in war zones are stricter! Wut!?!), the City’s police surveillance cameras are coming, and more!
Today’s episode is a feisty one! I call out the Union Leader for their lack of leadership on government- and police accountability issues, we recap the situation one Nashua taxpayer finds herself in after filing Right-to-Know requests and then being issued a “verbal restraining order” by police for her efforts, why “free staters” are just like everyone else (but better :P), why a “ski tax” is a terrible idea, and more!
NPR has an article out today: “Experts worry active shooter drills in schools can be traumatic for students.” As someone who has first hand experience under a police state regime that used similar tactics against its children in schools, let me tell you, Yes, it IS traumatic, and parents, children, and teachers should DEMAND that these drills stop IMMEDIATELY, or you should withdraw your children from these schools, and support charter schools, homeschool, or un-school.
Despite high-profile media coverage, school shootings with multiple victims are still rare. The overall number of students killed in shootings at schools is down from the early 1990s to about 0.15 per million in 2014-2015, according to researchers at Northeastern University. One Harvard instructor estimated the likelihood of a public school student being killed by a gun in school at about 1 in 614 million.
Below is my article from 2016 which first appeared on Carla4NHSenate.com. To Granite Staters, I implore you to stop voting for candidates, like Lou D’Allesandro, who support and condone this militarized behavior in our state. Vote these bums out!
02 Aug 2016
War is coming home
Having grown up in South Africa under apartheid, I am no stranger to the dangers of police militarization. In high school in the 80s, I attended an all-girls boarding school in Pretoria. The police would frequently come to our school to warn us “the terrorists are coming.” The “terrorists” were anyone the regime did not like.
One day, unbeknownst to us, the police detonated smoke bombs in our school to simulate a terror attack. We girls truly believed we were under fire. I was eleven or twelve, a volunteer school fire-fighter, and I leopard-crawled upstairs–fighting the smoke, tears and snot streaming down my face, bruises forming on my elbows and knees–to try to save my friends. Needless to say, when I learned the “attack” that terrified us so was orchestrated BY the police, my views about “good guys” and “bad guys” started to evolve.
America is marching lockstep towards a bona fide police state. This is not hyperbole. America incarcerates the most people on the planet. Today, police commit 1 out of 12 of all killings in the United States. In 2015, 41 officers were slain in the line of duty, while police killed 1,207 Americans. You are 8 times (some say 55 times) more likely to die at the hands of the police than a terrorist. Here in Manchester, an entire neighborhood was recently placed under lockdown, a daytime curfew, something you would never expect to see in a free society.
If you believe police militarization is necessary to protect you from the virtually nonexistent threat of terrorism, understand this fear mongering is being pushed on you by politicians and news media outlets who stand to gain from your fear. Scared people are controllable people.
Your children are being trained in school, like I was, to fear. In Manchester in May , schools were locked down 11 times in 3 weeks. Active shooter drills with “simulated injuries” that “may be visible on volunteer participants” take place in New Hampshire routinely, in hospitals, schools, and elsewhere. In other parts of the country, things are worse, e.g. the CIA forgot a bomb on a school bus after a drill. Do you want this to happen here?
And while you are being scared into submission, the police are being armed and trained to see you as the enemy. The police are being given more and more military grade equipment, funded mostly with federal grants, paid for by YOU, the taxpayer. You are literally paying for your own enslavement.
In 2013, while I was president of the FSP, the then police chief of Concord falsely claimed participants of my organization were a “domestic terrorist threat” in a federal grant application to get a $260,000 BEARCAT–a cuddly name for a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. The kind of vehicle you see in a war zone, not in a town with 2 homicides per decade. If YOU lie on a government form, you can be fined and/or imprisoned. When government officials break the law, they get off scot-free because “accidents happen,” or, when the crimes get Too Big to Jail, they run for president!
Long story short (you can read more here, here, here, and here, which includes links to media coverage), despite more than 1,500 paper petition signatures garnered from Concord residents, the town voted to accept the BEARCAT. The city council flat-out ignored their constituents, siding with the police over the people, something we see all too often in New Hampshire. The police chief kinda, sorta apologized for demonizing peaceful, limited government proponents, and quietly stepped down a few months later.
Even if you think BEARCATs proliferating across the state isn’t a big deal, what about the increasing military tactics being used on our streets, or all the rifles, scopes, and other tactical gear local police are being armed with, even in places like little ole Laconia? Don’t take my word for it, watch what this retired Marine colonel has to say about what is happening:
“We are building a domestic military, because it is unlawful or unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil, so what we are doing is building a military… Homeland Security is pre-staging gear, equipment… What they are trying to do is use standardized vehicles, standardized equipment… Let’s not kid ourselves, what we are doing is building a domestic army because the government is afraid of its own citizens.”
Why? Why are they afraid? Could it be because we are over-taxed, over-policed, and over-incarcerated? That 79.8% of people disapprove of the job congress is doing? Could it be because there was no real economic recovery after the 2000 and 2008 crashes caused by the federal government’s inflationary policies and money printing? Could it be they are worried about the ever-growing $19 TRILLION dollars of debt, a number so unfathomable people gloss over it, unaware this astronomical number excludes unfunded liabilities like social security and pensions?
Perhaps it is the fact that for the first time, thanks to the internet and social media, we can discover the truth for ourselves, and communicate directly with thousands of other people across the state, country, and globe? That they realize they no longer control the narrative, that, as Hillary Clinton put it in 2011 in a bid for more funding for the state department’s propaganda machine: “We are in an information war and we are losing that war.”
Sadly, America loves war. Besides the foreign interventions, at home we have the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on terror. Frankly, none of these “wars” work out as intended, and all of us end up as collateral damage to failed DC policies.
It is imperative that we reverse the militarization of police here in the Granite State.
As your senator, I will not support legislation to increase police militarization and will actively work to reverse this trend. We also need more accountability and transparency regarding these programs, especially those being pushed locally by the federal government. We need more reporting on what equipment is available, how it is being used, and what training is taking place.
Remember, when all one has is a hammer, eventually everything looks like a nail. As I said in this speech during the pro-police accountability rally I organized as a West Manchester homeowner after the lockdown, YOU are the nail.
If we don’t end this trend towards police militarization, one day soon you will find yourself living under tyranny and wonder how we got there. Not on my watch!
If You Did This to Your Child, You Would Be Arrested… Why Condone This Violent Behavior from People in Uniforms Carrying Guns in Schools?
Watch the video above to see happened last week at Keene High School, a government-run school. Now, I’d like you to pause and consider a few things:
- If you did this to your child at home, do you think this would rise to the level of assault? Do you think if a cop saw you doing this to your child, say, in a public parking lot, you might get arrested? If YOU couldn’t or shouldn’t get away with this sort of behavior, why would you condone this assault from an armed government agent in a school?
- Let’s assume for the sake of argument the kid was rude to the officer in the minutes before the video started. Do you tackle your child from behind and smash him to the floor every time he is rude to you? Is this the type of response you would like anyone to make when your child has his or her back turned and is walking away? Remember, in NH, the AG’s office has ruled law enforcement can shoot someone in the back when they are fleeing and kill them, and that this is “justified.” If you wouldn’t let anyone else get away with this, you should x1000 not let a government agent authorized to use lethal force get away with it.
- If the rationale for this sort of behavior is that we need to “save” children from vaping, do you think this level of violent response is OK to stop someone’s personal, peaceful, behavior, or do you think perhaps the LEO overreacted? If he overreacted, should he be held accountable, or should we just sweep this, like tens of other similar incidences, under the rug of “awful things we let happen in ‘our’ schools; *Shrug*”?
- The inevitable “spin” from Keene Police Chief Russo as quoted in today’s Union Leader boils down to their classic Nazi Nuremberg defense: “The officer was just following orders.” Chief Russo stated, “It looks like it was a legal use of force that followed our procedure,” and, “It doesn’t appear to violate our policies or state statute.”
Please note these nifty catch phrases are specifically designed to make you question your very astute GUT FEELING THAT THIS ASSAULT WAS WRONG AND SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING IN OUR SCHOOLS. We hear that “just following procedure” phrase with alarming frequency whenever questions about use of force come up. That’s on purpose. They want you to think, “Well, really, what do I know? I’m just a little ole person, and even though this behavior looks like a dangerous, immoral attack to me, and I know *I* would get in trouble if *I* behaved like that… but, they’re saying it’s legal and procedural for them to do, so I guess it has to be OK, because they say it’s OK?!?”
NO! Repeat after me: This type of behavior is not OK in a free society.
How do we fix this? First, we need to elect people who understand the actual challenges facing our state and schools. You can vote for me for the new School Charter Commission on Tuesday, November 5th. Second, we need to acknowledge we have a societal problem whereby we have sanctioned the government to use baseless bullying tactics against people in order to VIOLENTLY FORCE THEM INTO SUBMISSION.
This is not a world I want to live in. This is not a New Hampshire I want to live in, and I think we still have time to stop this kind of behavior here. We have a chance to reject government sanctioned violence as a way to make people do what we want. If you can’t persuade me, then maybe you need a better pitch.
If it were up to me, I’d fire this officer (listed as JOSHUA ENGLISH in the school staff directory), but we all know that will never happen [EDIT: This officer shot and killed someone in 2010 and that killing was ruled justified]. What will happen is the police will close ranks to protect this officer, and police apologists will make excuses and attack people who criticize them. They will have a secret, internal review and miraculously find themselves not guilty of anything, the officer will continue to work at the school, will likely hurt more children, maybe accidentally snapping someone’s neck in a “lawful procedural act” in the future, or maybe he’ll get moved to another school, but regardless, the system will make sure that ultimately, he gets a nice fat payout, and a lifetime pension. I doubt he’d even be placed on the secret list of bad NH cops (sign the petition to release the list and restore public trust HERE) and, well, I’m not holding my breath for that one, because #ICANTBREATHE.
The likely only result of this video will be they use it as an opportunity to expand the areas and tactics of “permitted procedural violence” that they will say is “legal” for them to use against our children in our schools. Oh, and I’m willing to bet any takers, they will 100% go after the kid who made the video. Because you can’t fix what you can’t SEE. And they don’t want you to see for yourself what they claim to be doing in your name, and they certainly don’t want you to make up your own mind, and say, Enough is enough, NOT IN MY NAME!
[UPDATE 08/08/20: If you had taken that bet, you would indeed have lost! Both children involved were sanctioned, one was suspended and one was reprimanded. Can you guess which was which?
The kid who took the video… i.e. the child who provided the evidence showing a grown man tackling a 15 year old in pink shorts from behind got… SUSPENDED. What kind of message do you think that is designed to send to the other students? Chilling, indeed.]
[UPDATE 12/5/20, Facebook post after trying to link to a 2019 police brutality video at Keene High: I find it deeply troubling that YT would censor as “age-restricted” a video shot IN a high school BY a high schooler of a police office tackling a 15 year-old student from behind. I suggest everyone click through and watch the video from Keene High last year (https://www.carlagericke.com/if-you-did-this-to-your…/) and then ask yourself if you think it is OK for this to be happening in local NH schools that YOU are FORCED to pay for? And before you say, “What did he do?” know this: It doesn’t matter what he did–would you program a “robot cop” to be able to tackle your child from behind like this during school hours? Didn’t think so. If you won’t authorize a robot to do it, why are you letting one human do it to another, a child, no less? (The kid was allegedly vaping in the Boys Room.) PS: I was linking my blog on a Maggie Hassan post when I noticed the new age warning. #NoBigBro#1984IsNotAnInstructionManual]
LISTEN NOW… “Lockdowns” have become a part of everyday life across America – but where did it all start, and what can we do to stop this? From the birth of the concept in prisons to events right here in Manchester, dive into the history and reality of school and neighborhood lockdowns with your hosts on this week’s episode of Told You So!
BONUS CONTENT! I was invited by State Representative Werner Horn to attend a discussion last night at a Republican meet-up in Franklin.
We had a fruitful discussion about “Lockdowns in NH,” delving into the history of these in our state, including details about past lockdown, like the recent Hillsborough County fiasco in which 300,000 Granite Staters were wrongly informed they’d been place under a “lockdown advisory,” and the 2016 West Manchester Lockdown where 30,000 residents of Manchester were place under a “lockdown” for more than 7 hours AFTER the subject had been apprehended. I explained how government-run schools are now routinely placed in lockdown, for example more than 10 have taken place in Manchester and surrounding areas since February 2018.
We discussed the legal basis for lockdowns. My position is there is none since “free people move freely.” One participant mentioned the “imminent danger exception,” and another said according to the Office of Legislative Services, they could not find any RSAs or laws authorizing “lockdowns” for civilian populations. We discussed the use of National Guard in Watertown, MA after the Boston Marathon Bombing, and how this appears to be a clear violation the Posse Comitatus Act.
We chatted about possible solutions for this emerging danger to our civil liberties as free people. Some ideas that were bandied about: making sure people are better informed about their rights; better training for police officers to understand that people can assume the risk of moving around freely, even in possibly volatile situations and that is NEVER OK to order people back into their homes at gunpoint; better communication between police and citizens, including decrypting their scanners so that law abiding citizens can know what is happening when an incident is occurring; and parents need to be made aware of the dangers of school lockdowns, and the traumatizing realistic “training” scenarios their children are being subjected to.
I joined Jack Kenny for a heated discussion about the 24/7 Orwellian police surveillance cameras being proposed for downtown Manchester. I stick to my guns that the cameras are symptomatic of government overreach that will ultimately lead to a dystopian future, and Jack takes the “security over liberty” position, and even trots out the Nazi quote from Minister of Propaganda Goebbels himself: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
While we are on the subject, read Edward Snowden’s take on why privacy is such an important right. And consider this Computer Weekly article, “Debunking a myth: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
The hearing for injunctive relief in the matter of NEAL KURK et al. v City of Manchester is taking place today. Having now read all the rather technical pleadings, it’s difficult to predict what may happen.
On the one hand, you have us four intrepid privacy advocates, the petitioners, holding strong that under RSA 236:130, it would be illegal for these surveillance cameras to even have the capability to identify motorists or motor vehicles, since such identification is expressly banned if it “can” occur under the section entitled, “Highway Surveillance Prohibited.”
On the other side, you have the City of Manchester and its police force, who argue they can do what they want (and they usually do–remember the recent tax cap override?). The City makes several technical arguments, including that some of us lack standing under Duncan, a bad court case that lead to the successful Constitutional Amendment which passed by a whopping 83% margin last fall to restore taxpayer standing. They also seem to make the argument that we should just “trust them” to use the cameras in lawful ways. Color me skeptical.
Follow me on Facebook to stay up-to-date on today’s developments.
The mission? Protect the peaceful people of New Hampshire from the Thin Blue Revenue Seeking Line. How? More than 30 liberty loving locals, Free Staters and others alike, spent Friday night, July 25, 2014, warning motorists in Manchester of a suspicionless “sobriety” checkpoint. New Hampshire boasts many quaint laws, including one that requires police departments to announce the date, time and place of DUI checkpoints.
Around 10 p.m. on this balmy summer evening, activists started lining up along Elm Street, the main thoroughfare from downtown. From our vantage point, the single-direction suspicionless checkpoint was tucked behind an incline, hidden from view to approaching motorists. A coincidence? As someone who has only been fined for speeding on a downhill, I think not.
Men, women, young, old, newbies, seasoned activists, some from Keene dressed in reflective gear and sporting radios, held signs to warn drivers: “Official Extortion Station Ahead,” “4th Amendment Dead Ahead,” “Remain Silent,” “Who Needs Probable Cause?” and “Swine Crossing, Turn Now.” As cars passed, drivers honked, passengers waved, people threw one handed peace signs from windows. Many cars turned to avoid the upcoming collection plate.
The previous weekend, in Seabrook, a suspicionless checkpoint yielded the following results: Out of 556 vehicles illegally searched, 9 driving-while-intoxicated arrests were made. As this Seacoastonline.com Letter to the Editor states: “While it sounds good that nine persons with a blood-alcohol concentration over 0.08 percent were off the streets, that means 547 innocent people were accosted and detained without probable cause and made to ‘show their papers’ in order to travel from one place to another.” On Friday night in Portsmouth, one man was arrested for DUI, one was cited for an open container, and two drug arrests were made.
And that’s the rub. These unconstitutional “sobriety” checkpoints cast their nets wider than their stated goal. Whether arresting drivers for blood alcohol levels above 0.08 percent really keeps others “safe” is up for debate, but arresting people for other offenses is de facto illegal. Another troubling aspect is these checkpoints are being funded by the federales. This past weekend’s Portsmouth checkpoint was funded with a $6,864 grant. The police department also received a second $6,864 grant approved for “DWI/DUI patrols,” which involve officers in cruisers looking for drivers who may be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Not to state the obvious, but isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing already?
In Manchester, only one officer engaged us, leaning out of his cruiser’s window to inform us not to stand in the road (we were in a marked parking bay). As things started to wind down, a driver made the fatal mistake of honking in support of our activism while changing lanes, doing so right in front of a squad car. Next thing: Blinding blues and reds. The motorist pulled over. A second squad car appeared, stopping in the right hand lane, blocking one lane of traffic heading towards the checkpoint. 15-20 activists came forward to observe the stop, many of us whipping out cell phones and video recorders, ready to catch the action on camera. We know the drill. The police know the drill. After all, I fought for that right all the way to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and won. Instead of threatening to steal our cameras, or indeed, confiscating them as they have done in the past, the backup rookie simply said: Please don’t interfere while recording.
Sadly, the driver ended up being arrested. During the exchange with the arresting officer, he answered questions he should not have. An activists handed him a “Know Your Rights” flyer through the open passenger window, but it was too late. A Cop Block activist from Keene escalated the situation, demanding that a supervisor be called and engaging the police in a headstrong way. This, in my opinion, was a mistake. When doing street activism, especially when another person–not an activist–is involved, it behooves you to de-escalate, to figure out a way for the police to save face in order to inflict the minimum amount of harm to all concerned. As the handcuffed driver was being escorted to a cruiser, he consented verbally, on camera, to having one of us drive his car to his home, which was literally around the corner. The police refused to give us his car keys, so at least one tow truck operator got his piece of the pie that night.
Some activists went to the police station to try to bail out the man who was arrested, and almost got arrested themselves. Others resumed waving signs. On the plus side, during the traffic stop, the cruisers’ flashing lights deterred far more motorists than our sign waving had done. Nary a car passed, most turning as soon as they spotted the blue and red lights up ahead. Why? Because peaceful people don’t want to be hassled when going about their lives. Peaceful people don’t want to interact with the police. Peaceful people know a midnight encounter with the Thin Blue Line is probably not going to end well for them, or their wallets.
The Free State Project is attracting thousands of liberty activists to New Hampshire. Friday night’s activities is only one example of the many ways Free Staters are exerting their fullest practical effort to reducing the size and scope of government in New Hampshire. Find out more here in the coming months, and subscribe to the FSP newsletter.
Carla Gericke is president of the Free State Project, a 501(c)(3) organization. Carla is a recovering Silicon Valley lawyer, and holds an MFA in creative writing. She speaks and writes on a variety of liberty topics. The views expressed herein are her own as an activist, and do not necessarily reflect those of, nor are they endorsed by, the Free State Project.
[MY NOTE: This article originally appeared on Shire Liberty News in 2014. Photo from a different protest, “1984 is Not an Instruction Manual” held in 2019 to protest the UnConstitutional police surveillance cameras being installed in downtown Manchester.]