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Vigilance in Concord: Free Staters right to protest

Last Monday, a group of Free Staters protested in Concord. If a Hollywood marketing agency had advertised the protest, it might have used the slogan, "This time, it's personal." For the Free Staters had been unfairly singled out, indeed terribly mischaracterized, by Concord officials who led the federal government to believe that the group was a terror threat.

Applying for a Department of Homeland Security grant, Concord Police Chief John Duval, City Manager Thomas Aspell and Deputy City Manager Brian LeBrun signed a letter in which they implied a Free State Project link to terrorism.

"We are fortunate that our state has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike; however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here," read the letter. "Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges."

Understandably, Free Staters were quite upset. Their movement eschews violence and is nothing like Sovereign Citizens or the tiny and irrelevant Occupy New Hampshire.

We were glad to see the Free Staters protest in Concord last week. Holding government officials accountable for misuses of power and authority cannot be done at the voting booth alone. Sometimes public attention has to be focused in other ways. If only more people paid closer attention to what their local government officials were doing in their name. If more people attended government meetings, reviewed government documents and otherwise kept an eye on their public servants, the need for protests would be diminished as the extra scrutiny would reduce bad behavior.

Eric Church
Saturday, 8 p.m.

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