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N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu cancels inaugural, citing armed protesters outside his home


CONCORD, N.H. — #New #Hampshire’s #Republican governor said #Wednesday that he is canceling his outdoor inauguration ceremony next month because of public safety concerns — namely, armed protesters who have been gathering outside his home in the weeks since he issued a mask order.

“My first responsibility is ensuring the safety of my family and our citizens” #Gov. #Chris #Sununu said in a news release.

“For weeks, armed protesters have increasingly become more aggressive, targeting my family, protesting outside my private residence, and trespassing on my property — an outdoor public ceremony simply brings too much risk. #We do not make this decision lightly but it is the right thing to do.”

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#In consultation with #Attorney #General #Gordon #MacDonald, #Sununu said, he and #Senate #President #Chuck #Morse, acting #House #Speaker #Sherm #Packard and the #Executive #Council will be sworn in during a small ceremony #Jan. 7. #It will be attended by leaders of both houses of the #Legislature and will be virtually attended by all other members. #Sununu will deliver his inaugural address at 7 p.m. that day.

#Protesters started gathering outside #Sununu’s home in #Newfields on #Nov. 22 over his order, which had taken effect two days earlier, requiring masks to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside, when social distancing isn’t possible because of the coronavirus pandemic. #On #Monday, local police issued summonses to nine people and arrested one of them under a new anti-picketing ordinance passed by the #Newfields selectboard, on which #Sununu’s brother sits.

#Skylar #Bennett, 38, of #Concord, said #Wednesday he will contest his arrest on charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct at a candlelight vigil held outside the home.

“It’s clear this ordinance in #Newfields was specifically to benefit #King #Sununu,” #Bennett said. #He added that people have been gathering to protest because #Sununu “closed the state.”

#When #Sununu issued the mask order, he said at the time a mandate was appropriate, given the rising percentage of positive test results, the fact that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had doubled in the past two weeks, there were new outbreaks at five nursing homes, and an “incredibly alarming rate” of community transmission by people who aren’t showing symptoms. The order expires #Jan. 15.

#At least 100 people appeared outside #Sununu’s home at the first protest. #Frank #Staples of the group #Absolute #Defiance said protesters chose the site because #Sununu had shut everything down, including the #Statehouse, “so right now, this is the #Statehouse.”

There have been more protests since then. #That led to the #Dec. 22 passage of the ordinance by the three-member #Newfields selectboard.

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The governor, who was not at home during #Monday’s gathering, had no involvement in the ordinance or in its enforcement, #Sununu’s spokesperson, #Benjamin #Vihstadt, said in a statement.

The ordinance says “It is unlawful for any person to engage in picketing before or about the residence or dwelling of any individual in the town of #Newfields.” #Violators are subject to a $100 fine.

#According to the minutes of the #Dec. 8 board meeting, #Newfields #Police #Chief #Nathan #Liebenow said the #Nov. 22 protest was described as “very boisterous and disturbing” and generated a number of complaints from residents.

There had been at least three more gatherings since then, and #Liebenow said more events were planned into #January. #He said the intention of the ordinance is not to suppress or violate anyone’s constitutional right to free speech.

The language of the ordinance is similar to one affirmed by the U.S. #Supreme #Court, said #Assistant #Attorney #General #Matthew #Broadhead, chief legal counsel for the state police. #He also described “the verbal harassment endured by the governor, his family and nearby residents,” according to the minutes.

The #Newfields #Police #Department, in its news release #Wednesday, said the nine people were advised of the town’s residential picketing ordinance and instructed to stop but didn’t, so they were given summonses.

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#Police did not provide names other than #Bennett’s, but the NH #Journal said one of its reporters, #Chris #Maidment, was given a summons, even though he repeatedly identified himself as a reporter covering the event. The #Journal said it will contest the summons and fine.
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#This story has been corrected to show the last name of the NH #Journal reporter is #Maidment, not #Madiment.



[ source link ]
https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/12/30/n-h-gov-chris-sununu-cancels-inaugural-citing-armed-protesters-outside-his-home/

##Gov ##Chris ##Sununu #cancels #inaugural #citing #armed #protesters #home

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