A city that has had two homicides in the past decade needs an armored vehicle to protect itself against weapons of mass destruction, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks, according to City Manager Thomas Aspell. In an application for Department of Homeland Security federal funding of a $258,024 BEARCAT tank (photo below), Aspell named three New Hampshire groups as presenting “active and daily challenges”: Occupy New Hampshire, Free Staters, and Sovereign Citizens. This information was only uncovered after a public records request from the ACLU, which has been focusing on the trend of the militarization of police forces in peaceful, small-town communities.
“These claims are appalling and inaccurate,” said Free State Project president Carla Gericke. “The Free State Project is a NH-based non-profit organization with the sole mission of attracting 20,000 pro-freedom people to the Granite State. In the decade of the FSP’s existence, to my knowledge, no participant has ever been implicated in a violent crime. In fact, Free Staters subscribe to the non-aggression principle, believing no one, including the state, should aggress against peaceful people.”
In March 2013, the ACLU, concerned about the extent to which local police departments are using federally-subsidized military technology and tactics that are traditionally used overseas, launched a national program called “Towns Don’t Need Tanks: The Militarization of Policing in America.” According to NBC News, “The Department of Homeland Security now hands out more than $3 billion a year in grants to boost anti-terrorism tools around the country. The Lenco BearCat — which starts at about $190,000 and can top $300,000 with options — can easily qualify as a necessary tool under several different grant programs.”