MANCHESTER, NH — It’s been a difficult, violent, tragic few weeks in the city, with police SWAT situations, shootings, threats 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.
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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