While applying for a $260,000 federal grant to obtain an armored vehicle, the Concord police chief labelled the Free State Project, sovereign citizens, and the Occupy movement domestic terrorists who “present daily challenges” to the Concord police. Police Chief John Duval said the following in the grant application, according to the Concord Monitor.
We are fortunate that our state has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here… Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges… Outside of the officially organized groups, there are several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies.
This, rightfully so, rubbed the Free State Project the wrong way. As someone loosely affiliated with the Free State Project, having attended their signature event Porcupine Freedom Festival, I must say having a man with an entire city’s police force behind him apply for a tank to the federal government, and suggest that a peaceful group I am a part of are in the cross-hairs, is unnerving. Why would the police chief insinuate a group who believes in the non-initiation of force principle and has never posed a criminal problem for the city of Concord, nor New Hampshire, would need to be the target of a tank?
The Free State Project President published a letter responding to Police Chief Duval’s remarks on the grant application, requesting that the grant be withdrawn and resubmitted without mention of the Free State Project. They also requested a written apology, and an itemized list of the “daily challenges” which the Free State Project has presented. FreeStateProject.org published the police chief’s response in which he claims the tank is a rescue vehicle, and continues:
The wording you cite from your web site, ‘Our website specifically states: “Anyone who promotes violence, racial hatred, or bigotry is not welcome”‘ underscores the point I was attempting to illustrate in the grant that there are people who may attach themselves to a law-abiding group, but who may have a personal agenda with criminal intent. I presume you would not have included that sentence if you did not believe there were individuals out there that you believed might align their personal agenda with your cause. Those are the challenges I was referring to.
And a snippet of the response back to the police chief from the Free State Project:
In response to your note, I would ask: What organization, including the two major political parties and your police department itself, runs no risk of people attaching themselves to the organization for their own personal agenda? Because most libertarians strongly believe in the non-aggression principle, and choose to disassociate from those promoting the initiation of force, does not mean, as you imply, that the FSP attracts more violent individuals than any other organization…
I respectfully request the following:
1. A clarification of the language in the grant request and a comprehensive list of groups that you believe pose a ‘terrorist threat’ to the City of Concord.
2. For the City/Concord Police Department to withdraw the grant application and resubmit it with accurate information.
3. Start an open and honest dialogue between our organizations to avoid such misrepresentations in the future.
Did that seem confusing to you? Are you not sure exactly what the Free State Project wants, or why they were angry? Here is what Police Chief Duval responded:
Some of your questions and inquiries are confusing. I’m not sure what you are asking by the way you wrote it. They are misleading in nature.
Apparently the chief had no more excuses and maneuvers to throw out there, so instead he pretended that the FSP was a rambling, nonsensical group. If he was actually confused by the letter, I question his ability to accurately direct his police force at actual threats to public safety. In reality, the Free State Project members are just aware of the militarization of police in the United State, and the problems this poses to innocent civilians.
The police have killed more innocent people than Occupy, the Free State Project, and sovereign citizens put together, because those groups have not been responsible for any deaths. It seems that the fringe element which many police forces attract would be able to use this Bearcat against innocents, as the Free State response points out that a police force could attract just as many people with ill intent that may attach themselves to the group’s purpose. With the power police have, would it not be more likely to attract someone who wishes to abuse power, then say, the Free State Project, made up of people who want to be left alone?
It is sad that we have come to a time in America where politicians regularly question the citizens’ need for semi automatic guns or large ammo clips, yet the government acts like the people have no right to question their need for a military weapon of war inside our borders, complete with the insinuation that it will need to be used on peaceful groups.