Citing public safety concerns related to a group of armed protestors who have gathered outside of his private home in recent weeks, Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday he is cancelling a planned outdoor inaugural ceremony on Jan. 7.
“For weeks, armed protesters have increasingly become more aggressive, targeting my family, protesting outside my private residence, and trespassing on my property — an outdoor public ceremony simply brings too much risk,” Sununu said in a press release. “We do not make this decision lightly but it is the right thing to do.”
Protesters began gathering outside of Sununu’s home in Newfields in November after he imposed a statewide mask mandate aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
The protests drew complaints from neighbors, and concerns from the local police chief about escalating costs to the small town. On Dec. 22, the Select Board of Newfields, which includes Michael Sununu, the governor’s brother, passed an ordinance prohibiting residential picketing.
Protesters gathered near Sununu’s home on Monday evening in defiance of that ordinance. Nine people, including a member of the media covering the event, were issued $100 fines, and a tenth person was arrested and charged with trespassing.
According to Sununu’s spokesperson, the governor and his family were not home during the latest protest.
Sununu easily won a third two-year term as governor in November, defeating his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Dan Feltes. Due to concerns over COVID-19, the governor’s inauguration had already been relocated to the steps of the State House, rather than inside of Representatives Hall.
Sununu will now be sworn-in during a small private ceremony, with a live stream provided to members of the public. He will deliver an inaugural address at 7 p.m. on Jan. 7.
During his four years in office, Sununu has supported an expansion of gun rights in the state, including ending a licensing requirement to carry a concealed weapon in 2017, which was the first bill he signed into law.