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Brandon Ross: When your own police label you a terrorist

August 06. 2013 9:46PM

I MOVED FROM Maryland to New Hampshire in 2010. Why? I walked into my corner grocery store in Maryland and all the lights were off. Reason: the small-business owner couldn’t afford the new countywide carbon tax. That was the last straw for me. I was exhausted by the ever-present bureaucracy and taxes near Washington, D.C. So I moved here.

Now, according to Concord police, that makes me — and other people moving to New Hampshire for a better life — a domestic terrorist. Seriously.

Concord Police Chief John Duval recently begged Washington, D.C., for more than $250,000 to buy a military-style “armored personnel carrier” — the Lenco BearCat G3. Chief Duval claims he needs this military personnel carrier because of groups like the “Free Staters.” He stated in his application that their threats were “real and here” and are providing Concord police “daily challenges.”

A “Free Stater” is a person loosely participating in peaceful, social and economic migration: to move 20,000 Americans who believe in smaller, responsible government to New Hampshire. I did that. I came to New Hampshire for that very reason. So, yes, I guess I am a “Free Stater.” I am also a Republican, a lawyer and a computer nerd.

Concord police want a military-style vehicle because of people like me? Most of my “Free Stater” friends have families, children, jobs, student loans and mortgages. What unique “daily challenges” are they giving Concord police?

It is sobering for police to label you and your friends “domestic terrorists,” to hear that you are the enemy. And Chief Duval quickly flip-flopped, telling the Union Leader that he needs a BearCat to protect “life and property.” Or maybe to serve warrants? And some police officers — not in Concord, but elsewhere in America — are killed on the job each year. So isn’t that a good reason for Concord taxpayers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new toy?

In 2011, a similar saga unfolded when Keene police asked for a quarter-million dollars to buy a BearCat. Keene also ignored the public opposition to that wasteful spending. And Keene police also got their shiny new toy.

Still today, one Keene city councilor calls Keene’s new BearCat a waste of money. Keene public records show that of the 21 times that Keene used its BearCat, only two were for questionably legitimate uses. The other 19 times were for “training purposes” — to prevent their BearCat from collecting rust.

That could have been a learning opportunity for Concord on wasteful spending. But it’s a foregone conclusion: the Concord police will get their BearCat. And every year, Concord taxpayers will waste even more money maintaining a military-style vehicle that Concord doesn’t need. But wasn’t that the Concord Police Department’s underlying motivation: earmarking more money for their budget — by labeling some of their own citizens as terrorists?

I was born in our nation’s murder capital. I’ve driven through bombed-out parts of Detroit with my doors unlocked. I’ve walked through dangerous parts of our nation’s capital at night. And, in my job, I’ve sat in locked rooms across tables from convicted murderers and rapists.

But I am far, far more scared to hear our civilian police say they need more military weapons because the people they are supposed to protect are terrorists.

A terrorist is a person who uses fear to achieve a political goal. Isn’t capturing more taxpayer money to buy new toys a political goal? Doesn’t labeling some of us as “domestic terrorists” inspire fear? If Concord Police Chief John Duval is searching for “domestic terrorists” in Concord, he should start with the man sitting behind his desk.

Brandon Ross is an attorney in Manchester and a former resident of Concord.

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