On Thursday evening, a very large crowd turned out to speak to the city council’s FOP committee on a proposed resolution to make Keene a “sanctuary city”. I’m happy to say that not a single police state xenophobe spoke during the hearing. Every speaker was pro-immigrant. Here’s video of the entire hearing:
Earlier this year, Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera made headlines by announcing his policy to not assist the federal government with immigration enforcement activities targeting peaceful migrants. That made Cheshire county into NH’s only “sanctuary county”.
Now, the City of Keene is considering a resolution proposed by Keene Immigration and Refugee Partnership that would encourage Keene police only to assist federal agents in apprehending allegedly violent suspects or have an outstanding warrant.
The resolution is well-intended and everyone in the packed council chambers supported it, but it doesn’t go far enough. First, it allows for Keene police to assist the federal immigration enforcement if they merely have a warrant, which aren’t hard for police to get with rubber-stamp courts. Second, the city’s new manager, Elizabeth Dragon, is claiming the city government can’t tell police what to do, per some state statute. That’s not exactly the whole truth, since the council is able to pass certain ordinances that the police are directed to enforce. While they may not legally be able to tell a police chief what not to enforce, they certainly have the ability to have the city manager fire anti-immigrant police, don’t they? Perhaps there are union protections in place to make that difficult, I don’t know.According to the Keene Sentinel, new Keene police chief Steven Russo has not specifically commented on the resolution’s proposals, though the group behind the proposal, KIRP, has said they’ve had a positive meeting with him.
At Thursday evening’s FOP meeting, after 100% support from the speakers there and many rounds of applause for those who spoke, the councilors on the committee voted 5-0 to give more time to the issue, specifically asking city staff to meet with KIRP and finalize the language of the proposed resolution.
Also, don’t miss Will Coley’s moving speech – here’s a direct link that will jump you straight to that part of the over hour long video.