NH Week in Review for Aug. 20: Charlottesville tumult shakes Granite State

Aug 20, 2017

The social and political issues from the clash in Charlottesville, VA between white nationalists and counter-demonstraters that shook Washington, D.C. also rattled tensions this week in New Hampshire.

A white nationalist featured in media coverage of the events in Charlottesville is in fact a resident of Keene. Christopher Cantwell said the Ohio man who drove his car into a group of counter protesters, killing a woman, was a hero and recounted his own “glorious” experience fighting people he called communists. See a Concord Monitor story here.

The Charlottesville events prompted comments by President Donald Trump that were seen a racially inflammatory as he equated the white supremacists and neo-Nazis with those who protested against them. This created political discussions that have divided his own Republican party.

Some Republicans in the state who support Trump - such as state Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem - said he was right to criticize both sides. But former NH GOP chair Jennifer Horn said there is no equivalence between white supremacists and peaceful counter-protesters. See a WMUR story here.

At the height of the week’s media coverage of events in Charlottesville, a vandal sprayed painted the word “Nazis” with a heart around it on a wall of the NH GOP headquarters in Concord.

The vandalism was denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike. U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said on Twitter: that the graffiti was “disgusting & has no place in our society.” Republican Gov. Christopher Sununu said, “It is certainly disturbing and very sad to see vandalism with such hateful rhetoric. There is no place for that in our politics or society.” See an NH1 story here.

The undercurrent of racism in New Hampshire is not new, according to students at the University of New Hampshire. After a series of racist campus incidents this year, students of color called upon the administration to make UNH a safer, more inclusive space, and presented a list of demands, according to a report by NHPR.

One specific demand is a call for a cultural competency course that all students would be required to take before graduating.

Also in NH

The attorney general’s office has identified a serial killer by his real name. Investigators believe the man murdered a woman and three girls whose bodies were found in barrels in Allenstown several years ago. Terry Peder Rasmussen, a former Navy man from Colorado, is the killer known in New Hampshire by his alias Robert “Bob” Evans, according to authorities. Authorities hope the new information will help reveal new clues about the murders he committed. See a Union Leader story here.

State Rep. Kathy Rogers, D-Concord, was charged this week with assaulting a well-known gun activist in the state. The alleged incident happened in November during a state senate recount, in which Rogers grabbed the woman and then hit her on the head. See an NHPR story here.

Gov. Sununu this week signed an executive order that reestablishes the  Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals and broadens its charge to advocate statewide not just for traditional pets, such as dogs and cats, but for other animals as well, such as bears. It is part of a larger effort to strengthen animal cruelty laws in the state. See a Union Leader story here.

Two of the largest insurance providers in the Affordable Care Act exchange announced they will remain in New Hampshire next year. There was worry that the political climate surrounding repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act would de-stabilize existing insurance marketplaces. See a WMUR story here.

Aldermen in Manchester imposed a six-month ban on smoking in downtown parks. The ban includes any tobacco-related product, including snuff and chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco products. Since the parks are a gathering place for the homeless, some see it as a way for police to harass them and argue that the ordinance doesn’t address the larger issue of drug use and addiction. See a Union Leader story here.

Should the state be able to deny an application to start a charter school based solely on a shortage of state money? Should the NH Fish and Game Department ban recreational cod fishing in state waters? Should marijuana be allowed for acute, not just chronic pain in New Hampshire? Those are a few of the questions we posted this week on our Facebook page. Go here to join the discussion.

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