More Keeniacs are upset about the city council’s decision to do whatever the police suggest and approve a “Bearcat” armored personnel machine. As you can see from the photo, this move is a clear militarization of the police, and thankfully the people of Keene appear to oppose this intimidating monstrosity. The Keene Sentinel recently published more letters to the editor from concerned inhabitants:
(Please write to the city council at 3 Washington St. and encourage them to refuse the fed’s corrupt offer of the Bearcat.)
The recent flurry of letters regarding the City Council vote to approve the “free” offer of a BearCat assault vehicle shows the unease many of us are feeling these days about both the growing militarization of our local communities and the budgetary choices being made by our leaders at the national, state and local levels during these tight fiscal times.
Perhaps this issue has galvanized such a community response because it symbolizes the increasing emphasis on guns, so-called security and the “fear factor” that has occurred in this country in recent years, including the Monadnock region.
I have lived twice in countries that were dictatorships (Uruguay in 1975 and Chile from 1984-1989) and the truth is that as an average law-abiding citizen I feel the security apparatus presence more strongly in Keene than I ever did in Uruguay or Chile.
From the loud alarm in Central Square that rings out to jar the senses each time there is an incident that involves fire or police, to the flashing blue lights the police use to pull over car that used to set my young son into panic, to the prison perched high on the hill to the entrance to Keene from the east, and more, I concur with what a German friend of mine who lives in Keene once said to me, “Keene sometimes feels like a police state.”
And now we will soon have an assault vehicle for local use.
This issue also shows the power we each have to say “no,” even when we think our one voice does not make a difference.
Councilor Terry Clark exhibited this courage in his recent vote, and his comment about not wanting to further encourage the “culture of war,” and his courage is to be commended.
We have lived for such a long time in a “culture of war,” that it can be hard to envision what a society based upon a “culture of peace” would be like.
But many people and communities in the United States and around the world are trying to do just this, right now.
On Saturday, March 3, the Fourth annual New Hampshire Culture of Peace conference will be held at Keene State College. This year’s theme will focus on “advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity.”
14 Barrett Ave.
Let voters decide on truck
Is it possible that the City Council has been duped by such a deal too good to turn down once again?
Let’s ask for a full disclosure of the fine-print lawyer’s contract they signed with the feds. I’ll bet there is a skunk in the BearCat trunk that will make all of us smell bad before this foolish, rash “super deal ” by the City Council is nullified.
Return this war tank now during the 30-day trial warranty period.
Or, let’s put it on the next ballot for a public vote and let the city voters decide.
P.O. Box 331
Kudos to those citizens urging the Keene City Council reconsideration of the Lenco BearCat.
By now, most readers know this military assault vehicle has been offered to the city by the Department of Homeland Security, paid for by we the people of the U.S.
While the BearCat name may conjure fur and claws, the acronym is less fuzzy: Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.
Is this really what Keene needs?
Other recent letters have raised important points about better uses for this money in a time of need, and the unnecessary militarization of the Keene police force. My contribution is to remind the City Council of another important and ultimately successful about-face it took several years ago.
In 2000, the city was fully committed to accepting the Department of Transportation’s supersized plan for a $66 million Keene bypass.
Part of the justification was that the feds would pick up 80 percent of the cost. Then, a growing wave of concerned citizens showed the City and the DOT a solution that was a better fit for Keene and, at less than $10 million, a huge savings to the taxpayer.
The council was resistant at first but eventually realized it was time to back away from the DOT’s plan and embrace the citizens’ plan.
Today, it is time for the City Council to similarly reverse itself on the Lenco BearCat. If you agree, write or call City Hall.
I also plan on copying this letter to Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and Congressman Bass to let them know there are many who do not agree with spending our scarce federal resources in this manner.
42 Hurricane Road