Free staters recruit angry residents in SC town
|Title:||Free staters recruit angry residents in South Carolina town|
Free staters recruit angry residents in South Carolina townby Kate McCann Associated Press Writer 12/16/03
CONCORD, N.H. -- A heavy-handed drug sweep in a high school has made a South Carolina community the first target of a New Hampshire-based freedom-minded advertising campaign.
The Free State Project says that whenever there is such an "egregious overstep" of government powers, it will run ads that essentially say, "Come to New Hampshire, we don't have this problem."
The project, which aims to bring 20,000 liberty-minded people to New Hampshire to work for smaller government and greater individual liberties, has reached about 6,000 people who say they are committed to moving to New Hampshire.
The first ad will run Wednesday in a weekly newspaper in Goose Creek, S.C., where police with guns drawn ordered more than 100 Stratford High School pupils to the floor and restrained some with plastic handcuffs during a Nov. 5 raid in which no drugs were found.
"They basically terrorized the students for no good reason," said James Maynard, a project spokesman in New Hampshire. "So we will be running ads in towns around Goose Creek or even Charleston."
A second federal lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of 20 pupils stemming from the incident. Earlier this month, a suit alleging constitutional violations was brought on behalf of 18 other Stratford students.
The first add depicts a grainy surveillance video frame of the raid, showing students crouched on the hallway and police with weapons drawn.
Above and below the frame reads: "Some people feel this is an appropriate way to protect our children... You may feel there's a better way. We think you're right. Discover for yourselves how the members of the Free State Project have pledged to make a difference."
"Governments who overstep their constitutional bounds should beware that when they do, we're going to be right behind them to recruit their citizens from under them," Maynard said.
But Ed Haas, spokesman for the South Carolina Libertarian Party, doubts the project will find any new takers in the southern state.
"What is mind boggling to me is how many people down here are actually in favor of what they saw on that surveillance tape," said Haas, who issued a statement condemning the raid.
"I don't know if (the ad) would be money well spent," he said.
The ad cost nearly $300, said Kelton Baker, interim president of the Free State Project.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called it an issue of police violence. A South Carolina state senator said the raid was racial profiling.
Police conducted the sweep early in the morning, at a time when many minority students are at the school because they are bused in early.
"There is definitely a large segment of the minority community down here that are very concerned about police conduct," Haas said. "Whether they would seize the opportunity to participate in the experiment in New Hampshire, I don't know."
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