Can the Police Chief Call You a Terrorist and Get Away With It?
In a grant application for $258,024 in federal funds from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to receive a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack vehicle ("BEARCAT"), the City of Concord and its police department claimed: "The State of New Hampshire’s experience with terrorism slants primarily towards the domestic type. 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. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges. Outside of officially organized groups, several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies." Like many people in New Hampshire and beyond, I was outraged at these fraudulent claims. On August 2, 2013, I made the following demands on behalf of the 14,650+ FSP participants to the City of Concord (Thomas Aspell and Brian LeBrun) and the Police Chief (John Duval): 1. A retraction and amendment of the grant application to remove all references to ‘Free Staters’. You are reminded that a condition of receipt of the grant’s funding is: ‘Funding may be suspended or terminated for filing a false certification in this application or other reports or document as part of this program.’ 2. An itemized list by calendar day of the ‘daily challenges’ presented by ‘Free Staters’ to the CPD. Please list individuals, not a class of people. 3. A written letter of apology from both the City and CPD, which includes the following statements: ‘The Free State Project is not a domestic terrorist organization,’ and ‘Free Staters do not pose ‘daily challenges’ to the Concord Police Department. Chief Duval soon backpedaled, but has yet to issue a formal written apology as requested, or meet any of the other demands. He did have this to say: “The three organizations that I mentioned … I do not believe they are terrorist groups. I don’t know how clearer I can say that. I don’t believe that they are … it was a poorly worded sentence and paragraph and I’m sorry for that.” “While he stands by the basic premise that there are situations where the Bearcat is needed in the Central NH ops unit, Duval apologized for any offense citing the groups may have caused. He said that he was limited to three pages of space to explain why the unit needed the Bearcat and that limited the amount of text he was able to offer in the request.” “Duval said that interpretation takes his views out of context. But that section “should have been more adequately explained,” he said. “I’ll be explicit: I do not think that those three organizations that were mentioned as examples are domestic terrorist groups,” Duval said. “We have groups and organizations, and there are many, many others – those are just three examples – that because of their view, at times, create a polarizing situation.” Yesterday, I sent the following email to the same City of Concord recipients (and copied the NHCLU): "Dear Sirs, Before the Free State Project pursues further action regarding the fraudulent, false and misleading grant application CFDA #97.067 you submitted in support of your Concord Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack vehicle application, I’m making one final request that you do the right thing. I strongly recommend you retract and amend the grant to remove all mentions of the Free State Project and/or "Free Staters." It is absolutely unacceptable to defame and profile an organization and its participants in the manner you have, and [I] trust you understand the severity of making fraudulent claims in grants. You have created a public record with the DHS which brands "Free Staters" as “domestic terrorists,” and I, along with the 14,500+ participants [as of this posting, now 14,650] of our peaceful movement, will not tolerate it. I don't mean to overstate the issue, but I'm not going to back down about getting that wording removed from the grant. I’m hopeful we can solve this amicably by you simply retracting and amending the grant application before Monday, August 12, when your BEARCAT hearing is scheduled. If you have not provided documented proof of amending the application to me via email by Noon on Friday, August 9, 2013, I will publicly call for your resignations, and lodge a formal complaint with the DHS Office of the Inspector General. Thank you for your attention to this important matter." This morning on NHPR’s "The Tussle Over Police Tactics", where I was given only a few minutes to speak, Duval added these comments: “I have said it several times in the last couple of weeks, the application, some of my thinking, the rationale for my needs, was keeping it to three pages or less... in a limited way, I attempted to state a case, it was interpreted that I was calling certain groups terrorist groups... I do not believe they are terrorist organizations.” “I accept responsibility... I missed the mark in what I was trying to communicate.” Asked whether he was willing to amend the application, Duval said: “It’s not too late, and I’m looking to do that, we’re working on that, and again, I will reiterate, I accept responsibility for a poorly worded grant, I do stand by, um, you know, my thoughts about, things are different now than they were years ago.... and law enforcement is forced to be prepared for those things... and Concord being the capital city, the hub for protests and everything else, I would be remiss to, if I didn’t prepare, if I didn’t prepare adequately for that...” Listen to the whole interview here. Although Duval now apparently takes responsibility for what he said, he still has not apologized. Police hold us accountable for the things we do, and you can be assured if we committed the same grave misstatements on governmental paperwork--even accidentally--we'd be shown very little, if any, leniency--and would likely end up incarcerated. Duval, as chief of police of the state's capital, should be held to an even higher standard. He, in his official capacity, made serious misrepresentations to the Department of Homeland Security regarding, by his own admittance, false terrorism threats. Imagine if you had done this. Does he believe his actions do not warrant an apology? The question also begs to be asked: If they're labeling Free Staters and Occupiers as terrorists in secret government documents, who else is being treated the same way? Muslim groups? Raw milk dispensers? Tea Partiers who have already been targeted by the IRS? I am willing to stick to my offer to give the City and Chief Duval until Noon tomorrow to amend the false and misleading grant application. However, a concerned NH resident and Free Stater (and eager beaver!) filed his own complaint, and forwarded this confirmation email to me late this afternoon: "You recently submitted a complaint to the DHS OIG via the OIG's online website. Your Complaint number is: C1313879. Complaints received at the OIG are reviewed to determine if DHS OIG investigation, or referral to a more appropriate entity, is warranted. If the allegation does not fall within the scope of DHS OIG's jurisdiction, then that information may be forwarded to the appropriate agency or authority for their review. This notification is not an indication your Complaint will be investigated by the DHS OIG or any other applicable investigating body. It is suggested you maintain a copy of this message for your records." While I wait until Noon on Friday, August 9, 2013, to see whether the City and the police department will do the right thing, I wonder whether you are as concerned as I am that Chief Duval openly admits to planning to use BEARCATs at political protests? If Concord law enforcement officials are willing to misrepresent the facts in an official DHS grant application to this extent, what else are they hiding? If we have to ask these questions about the leader of our state capital’s police force, should law-abiding taxpayers really be funding these tanks? The BEARCAT hearing will be held on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 41 Green Street in Concord. Please arrive by 6 p.m. You can RSVP here. Like what the Free State Project is doing to achieve Liberty in Our Lifetime? Please DONATE now. Most donations are in the $20 range, so you don’t have to break the bank. We accept Bitcoins too. Thank you for your support! PS: If you like the photo accompanying this article, please feel free to use it as your avatar.