Alderman Levasseur: ‘It’s like we’re victims in our own city”

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Protestors from the Free State Project, outside City Hall.
Protestors from the Free State Project, outside City Hall.

MANCHESTER, NH — It’s been a difficult, violent, tragic few weeks in the city, with  police SWAT situations,  shootingsthreats against first-responders by a distraught man, and a fatal fire, along with the daily responses crime, and calls for service.

So when a group of Free Staters rallied outside of City Hall on Tuesday night to call attention to what they see as a militarized police force, the city’s Board of Aldermen responded with a unanimous “vote of confidence” in Manchester Police Department.

Former Freestate Project President Carla Gericke, passing out signs prior to a rally questioning militarization of the MPD.
Former Freestate Project President Carla Gericke, passing out signs prior to a rally questioning militarization of the MPD.

Earlier in the day, rally organizer Carla Gericke, former president of the NH Free State Project, had the chance to speak with Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard about her concerns during a Coffee with a Cop event at the Second Street McDonald’s. She felt the extended “shelter in place” directive following a shooting incident on the West Side, where she resides, was an example of excessive police presence. Willard told Gericke that the “shelter in place” directive is not a mandate, but rather a suggestion, which sat well with Gericke. But she maintains there needs to be community discussion about the reach of police presence — and force — in certain situations, and said she hoped Tuesday’s  peaceful protest, which drew about 60 supporters, would be the beginning of a dialogue.

Carla Gerike, recorded live stream from City Hall, June 7, 2016

 

After the rally outside City Hall, several of the group members addressed the Board of Aldermen during public comment about their stance. A short time later, Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur offered remarks prompted by the rally, and their comments brought to the board.

He said that while he believed those who brought their concerns forward were “good people” he wanted to speak candidly as a longtime resident of the city, which led him to make an impromptu but impassioned response, followed by a unanimous vote by the board in support of the police department.

You can listen to an excerpt of his comments below.


Below are the full prepared remarks by Carla Gericke.

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About Carol Robidoux 6043 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!