The government’s treating citizens as potential terrorists threats have been on display for the past couple months with a series of revelations about the NSA, IRS and DOJ. In March 2009, a leaked secret report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) profiled third-party supporters, homeschoolers, people who know the U.S. Constitution and people who have related bumper stickers on their cars, fly the flag or even invest in gold as potential domestic terrorists.
In April 2009, a Department of Homeland Security published Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, a report which expressed many of the same sentiments and targeted the same people. It wasn’t too long afterward that the firstname.lastname@example.org scandal emerged, in which the White House asked people to report their friends, acquaintances, colleagues and neighbors who disagreed with Obamacare.
In January 2013, Arie Perliger, the Director of Terrorism Studies at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, published a paper titled Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right. In the document, he identifies racists/white supremacists, anti-federalists and fundamentalists as the three far-right groups who are responsible for a “dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots” in America. He identifies anti-federalists as those who discuss and object to a “New World Order,” and who feel that the federal government is corrupt and tyrannical, infringing on Constitutional rights.
It’s in this political environment – where profiling citizens who want more freedom and less government is the “new norm” – that Concord, New Hampshire Police Chief John Duval filed an application to the Department of Homeland Security asking for over $250,000 to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle. After the ACLU submitted a public records request, shocking political profiling was revealed.
“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.” – From Concord, New Hampshire’s application to the DHS for an armored police vehicle.
The Free State Project is an organization trying to persuade 20,000 or more “liberty loving people … neighborly, productive, tolerant folks from any and all walks of life” to move to New Hampshire. The end goal of this is to help more people who may want to move – but who feel unsure that New Hampshire will maintain its small government attitudes – feel more secure in their decision to move to the Granite State. New Hampshire is the last swing state in the North East and New England and makes it a very attractive destination.
Though the Free State Project is not a political action organization – it does not run or endorse political candidates or legislation – and though only seven members of the project live in Concord, the organization was targeted. Occupy Wall Street and Sovereign Citizens movements are more politically active, their actions are far from “terrorism,” which in most people’s minds means ideologically motivated violence against innocents.
The DHS approved the grant application, but people are now calling for the funding to be removed. Some reference funding issues, saying that Concord is nonviolent and does not need a $250,000 tactical armored vehicle which it wouldn’t buy with its own money, so why should the federal government pay for this. Mostly, though, the opposition is due to blatant and unfair political profiling. The grant specifically states that “funding may be suspended or terminated for filing a false certification in this application.”
The Free State Project has demanded a retraction and amendment of the grant application to remove references to the organization and its members, an “itemized list by calendar day of the ‘daily challenges’ presented by ‘Free Staters’ to the CPD,” and a written letter of apology from both the city and the CPD. Concord’s City Council has delayed the decision on whether to accept the grant, and so far the demands have not been met. At a City Council meeting after receiving no response, Carla Gericke, the president of the organization, demanded the resignation of all officials involved.
Carla Gericke president of the Free State Project at the public hearing stated , “We are here today in great numbers to raise our voices to protest the manufactured, false, misleading, fraudulent AND SECRET claims made by Thomas Aspell, the city manager, and John Duval, the chief of police in the federal grant application for Concord’s Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack vehicle. As president of the Free State Project, I have publicly called for a retraction and amendment of the Department of Homeland Security grant. I also asked for a list of ‘daily challenges’ presented by Free Staters. Lastly, I requested a public letter of apology for the defamation of 14,600+ Free State Project participants. None of these requests have been met, although Chief Duval has since backpedaled in public statements, saying we do not present a ‘domestic terrorist threat.’ (See video below).
Radley Balko states in his white paper, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, that “over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work.”
Radley Balko, in a report for the CATO Institute, provides a number of policy recommendations, found here, for states seeking to stem police militarization.
The South Carolina Policy Council, who is battling similar issues states, “Police are not soldiers; they aren’t there to win wars or defeat enemies but to keep people safe. Citizens shouldn’t have to fear those members of society whose stated purpose is to preserve their safety.”
They recommend that all legislative bodies that have the power at the state or local level should reject appropriations of federal funds (such as Homeland Security funds) intended for use in purchasing military-style weapons.