Government Sends Snipers to Intimidate Free Staters at NH PumpkinFest

October 22nd, 2013

Keene, NH is home to a large number of members of the Free State Project, an amazing group of peaceful freedom lovers, committed to liberty in our lifetime, who have moved to New Hampshire together to build a voluntary society. Many members of the group engage in acts of civil disobedience against corrupt laws on a regular basis, in the tradition of heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr, and local law enforcement officials across the state have taken an aggressive stance against them, sometimes referring to them unfairly as terrorists and using their presence as a justification to buy military-style equipment.

Last Saturday at PumpkinFest 2013 in Keene, NH, plain-clothes police snipers were seen watching over the crowd. As the above photo demonstrates, the duo were equipped with an aerial map of the area, a sniper rifle, and binoculars. Lieutenant Steven Tenney of the Keene Police Department confirmed that they were law enforcement officers, but did not clarify the agency to which they belong. Why were snipers deployed to a small town fall pumpkin festival? Check out video of the snipers below and let’s discuss the absurdity of it.

Why Were Snipers at PumpkinFest 2013?

To be fair, it has yet to be proven that the PumpkinFest 2013 snipers were sent there specifically to intimidate or threaten members of the Free State Project, but it certainly seems suspicious. I’m a resident of Nashville, TN, a major city that could in theory have a serious outbreak of violent crime at a public event, and I’ve never once heard of law enforcement officers bringing sniper rifles out to any of the many community events that take place here at parks on weekends. Keene, NH, on the other hand, had a population of 23,409 as of the 2010 census.

Keene features a low crime rate, with only 3 reported murders in the past 14 years. It has certainly not been attacked by terrorists and is by no means a hotbed of the type of violence that would necessitate hiding snipers on rooftops to watch over a fall festival about pumpkins. It seems the motivation has more to do with the presence of the peaceful activists from the Free State Project, as the police chief in nearby Concord, NH recently referred to them as terrorists in a request for a military-style mine-resistant armored vehicle.

Law Enforcement Should Protect Citizens and Their Rights, Not Intimidate Them

There is no sensible law enforcement justification for sending snipers out to a rural seasonal festival. In all likelihood, these officers were deployed simply because local police have chosen to mis-categorize the Free State Project as a domestic terror group. If that is the case, something needs to be done to change that quickly, as law enforcement administrators should not give their officers false intelligence that might cause them to see law-abiding citizens as a threat.

Meanwhile, citizens in small town America do not need to live in such a climate of fear that snipers stand perched over rooftops while children carve pumpkins for Halloween in broad daylight. This is the type of security theater that third-world dictatorships employ to show force and intimidate citizens. Whichever agency sent the snipers to PumpkinFest 2013 needs to issue a statement explaining the decision.

The bloggers over at FreeKeene.com are asking for help with identifying which agency sent the snipers to PumpkinFest 2013, so that complaints can be filed. If you have any tips, feel free to contact them.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.