Showing posts with label Keene. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keene. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

City of Keene, NH seeks "Bearcat" Military Tank; America's Police continue to Militarize

The United States appears to be rushing head-long into a full-fledged Police State. Tasers. Pepper Spray. NDAA. Drones. And now, military tanks as “police” vehicles.

On June 6, 2011, in Oakland Park, Florida, James Doe, who was 31 years old and only 130 pounds, was tasered by police while he was handcuffed and locked in the back of a cruiser. He fell limp, and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at Florida Medical Center. James was just one of 40 deaths that occur every year as a result of the unnecessary or excessive use of Taser equipment by law enforcement officials.

Backtracking: In Chicago, a team of research scientists and doctors at the Cook County hospital trauma center stunned 6 pigs with two 40-second Taser discharges. All six animals exhibited heart rhythm problems. Two subsequently died of cardiac arrest. A San Francisco cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Zian Tseng, determined that a healthy individual could die from a Taser discharge, depending on electrode placement on the chest and pulse timing. Taser International then contacted him, asking him to reconsider his statements to the media on the subject, and then offered him “funding” to further his research. CBC News Story.

But Taser International is hardly the only private firm that profits by militarizing local police forces.

This Blog has been particularly critical of the increasing use of Pepper-Spray by Police forces. Excessive and indiscriminate use of the chemical has been used with increased frequency across the nation, particualarly at Occupy Protests; several photos and videos that caught pepper spray incidents in New York and at U. California–Davis went viral and heightened public attention and condemnation of the practice.

(see U C Davis Pepper Spray and NYPD Pepper Spray )

Police reactions in both cases initially consisted of lies and cover ups which couldn’t stand up to the evidence in the videos, and the officers in both of those cases were disciplined. Unfortunately, even as I write this, the state of Florida is now investigating the case of Nick Christie, a 62-year old mentally ill man who was bound, restrained and tied to a chair in a Flordia jail and coated with pepper spray in 2009. He died two days later.

Pepper spray was approved in the US for police use in spite of objections by US military scientists in 1991, and is now in use in 2,000 local jurisdictions. Subsequent to that approval, it was discovered that Thomas W. Ward, the head of the FBI's Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Program who approved pepper spray’s use on civilians, received payments from Luckey Police Products, a pepper spray manufacturer, while authoring the FBI study that led to its use. Ward received $57,500 in increments of $5,000 a month paid through his wife. He was sentenced to two months in prison.

In the meantime, various courts have declared its use to be cruel and excessive, and twelve citizens die each year from pepper-spray induced asthma attacks or asphyxiation.

News of the increased militarization and forcefulness on the part of American officers “of the peace” are accelerating with frightening speed. Congress recently passed the NDAA bill, permitting the military to detain US citizens without trial or charge indefinitely; the Obama administration has admitted to the expanded use of spy drones over the United States; and after the Super Bowl this past weekend, state and local police arrived in riot gear and on horseback at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst campus, “in anticipation” of student crowds. When the police decided the crowd on the public, state-owned property was "too big,” they moved in and dispersed students who, up to that moment, had broken no law and caused no damage.

And so, in this atmosphere of the growing American Police State, the city Council of Keene, New Hampshire has attempted to purchase a military tank, without public input, for the purposes of “rescue missions."

The City of Keene recently announced that its would use a grant of $285,933 from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase a "Bearcat" vehicle from LENCO, a company that prides itself on developing and selling vehicles for military and SWAT-team use. Of 15 City Councilors, only one – Terry M. Clark – opposed the purchase.

After the Council vote, citizen response was swift. A petition in opposition to acquiring the Bearcat was delivered to the City Council, signed by 144 residents. The opposition has crossed political lines, uniting conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Initially, the City Council decided that they would simply “accept” the petition without discussing the issue again. Council Member Terry Clark then formally requested that the issue be returned to the City’s Finance Committee for a public hearing; the Council agreed, and this Thursday, Feb 9 at 5:30 pm the first public hearing on the issue will be held.

In the meantime, LENCO is attempting to backtrack. The Bearcat purchase is being ‘recast’ as an effort to purchase a “rescue” vehicle that will help Keene citizens in need. The LENCO website, however, approaches this issue quite differently. On its Website advertising six varieties of Bearcats (its domain name is, tellingly, “”), LENCO describes the vehicles as having the following attributes:

“Primary APC used by SWAT & SRT, Military Police, and Security Forces”

“Designed for Military personnel. Military-style turret can be configured for .50 caliber Dillon Mini-Guns and CROWS.”

“All Military Spec Steel construction. Currently used by SWAT and Special Op Teams at high security facilities.”

“V-Hull Blast Shield protects against grenades and IED attacks”

None of these sounds like the attributes of a “rescue” vehicle. In fact, LENCO had a video advertisement on YouTube that promoted its product: it showed military and SWAT teams exiting the vehicle, firing military weapons, drilling holes through house walls, and spraying toxic gases.

In the heat of the controversy, LENCO pulled the video ad off of YouTube.

But thanks to our friends at CopBlock, the video is included here. You watch, and you decide, whether this is a “rescue” vehicle or another military toy to facilitate the police state’s intimidation and control over the citizenry:


Friday, October 21, 2011

Keene Bank of America protest yields immediate results

Today, from 11:00 to 2:00 pm, volunteers with Occupy Keene stood outside of the Keene Bank of America branch to encourage that bank’s customers to close their accounts and support local credit unions instead.

While about seven demonstrators stood in front of the bank singing, passing out flyers, catching much of visual attention of passers-by (and, one case, sporting a Guy Fawkes mask), two others (including your blogger) went around the back of the bank to catch drivers as they exited the drive-through. In all, over 250 flyers were given out to bank customers, each of whom was engaged in direct conversation about the “Move Your Money” movement. One side of our flyer chronicled the fraud, fees, foreclosures, and outrageous actions of the Bank of America since 2007; the other side explained the advantages of using local credit unions, with step-by-step recommendations as to how best to smoothly transfer banking operations from one institution to another.

One customer, a young man who appeared to be in his late twenties, excitedly responded to us, “I just did it! I just opened up an account at the credit union, and I closed my Bank of America account!”

Indeed, he wasn’t alone: a phone interview with the Cheshire County Federal Credit Union by your blogger confirmed that several people came in today to open new accounts, and self-identified as those leaving the Bank of America.

For others, it was just the encouragement they needed. “You know, I’m gonna do this! They just charged me seven bucks just to cash a check!” said one very upset man to me as he exited the Bank of America. In fact, the response overall was overwhelmingly positive and supportive, with most customers smiling, offering ‘thumbs up,’ or expressing outright solidarity. Some bemoaned the fact that BoA owned their mortgage, and they felt they couldn’t ‘escape.’ Others noted, with regret, that their children attended colleges where the BoA has a contractual monopoly on-campus.

Cheshire TV covered much of the event, and interviewed both customers and demonstrators. Overall, the effect of this effort came not from our numbers or loudness, but from our one-on-one conversations with a very specific target population that is already fed up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

110 turn out in Keene NH in solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet

At least 110 residents of my hometown of Keene, NH gathered at Railroad Square in Keene at 12:15 this afternoon in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Holding signs decrying corporate greed and the shrinking of the Middle Class, the group decided on a spontaneous march up Main Street to Central Square, which serves as the Town Common in the middle of a busy traffic circle. Chanting “Wall Street- Our Street!,” “This is What Democracy Looks Like,” “We are the 99% - You are the 99% per cent!,” and “ We got Sold out – They got bailed out!,” the group divided into two streams, with one parading up the sidewalk and the other occupying the northbound lane of traffic. The two streams then joined forces again at Central Square, where they directed their protests to passing drivers, many of whom honked and waved back in solidarity.

The group was as diverse as Keene itself: mothers with children in carriages or alongside them with signs, senior citizens, war veterans, peace activists, active community members, blacks and whites, Unitarians and Jews, college students, professors from at least three colleges, at least one State Rep (Chuck Weed), some members of Free Keene and CopBlock, GLBT activists, local musicians, grandmothers, and middle class men. No one group predominated or ‘controlled’ the event, and many took turns leading in protest chants. One teenager introduced the group to “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Corporate Greed has got to go!,” a consistent and humorous counterpoint to us aging hippies singing Buffalo Springfields’ “For What it’s Worth” by memory.

The demonstration continued at full strength for at least an hour. The group decided on another General Assembly Meeting at 4 pm, where one of the major issues to be discussed was a protest at a major corporate entity in Keene. More details on Friday from that event…

Gallery of Pictures from Today's Event at Facebook Photo Gallery

Video of Keene Demonstration

For What It's Worth,
by Buffalo Springfield

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down