Civil Rights | New Hampshire Public Radio

Civil Rights

A statewide commission on police accountability and transparency has sent Gov. Chris Sununu recommendations for reforms to police training in New Hampshire.

Sununu created the commission in mid-June in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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Around midnight on a Saturday, Thomas Hurd fell asleep at the bar of a Chinese restaurant in Farmington, New Hampshire. 

The bartender, suspecting Hurd was drunk when he got there, asked him to leave. According to police reports, Hurd instead began smashing plates and flipping tables. 

Ali Oshinskie for NHPR

As New Hampshire leaders train their focus on social justice amid statewide protests calling for reform, the state’s Civil Rights Unit in the Department of Justice continues to bring few civil rights cases to court.

Courtesy of Arnie Alpert

After almost four decades of social justice activism, New Hampshire civil rights leader Arnie Alpert is retiring from the American Friends Service Committee. 

Arnie Alpert joined NHPR’s All Things Considered host Peter Biello to discuss some of the highlights of his career. 

(Below is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.)

Alpert pushed to make Martin Luther King Day a holiday in New Hampshire. The Granite State was the last state to make it a holiday in 1999. He spoke on the occasion. 

Mayor Marty Walsh on Friday declared racism a public health crisis in Boston. To tackle the emergency, Walsh said he will reallocate $3 million of the department's overtime budget to public health. Walsh said the decision comes after he listened to Black people — both in the Black Lives Matter movement and in his life — who shared with him "how racism shapes lives and hurts communities."

House Judiciary

A day after George Floyd's funeral in Houston, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on racial profiling and policing practices in America.

Floyd's brother is among those scheduled to testify before the committee today, June 10.

New Hampshire Calling: What Does It Mean To Be An Ally

For white people who have just recently recognized their own complicity in America's racist systems and are looking to "fix" that — it's not going to happen overnight.

"It's a little bit like saying 'I want to be in shape tomorrow' ..." says author Robin DiAngelo. "This is going to be a process."

Christina Phillips/NHPR

As protests against racism and police brutality continue across the country and New Hampshire, we compare what we’re seeing now to earlier movements – more than a century of demonstrations for civil rights and against systemic racism. 

Air date: Tuesday, June 9, 2020. 

Courtesy

Saturday's protests in Manchester drew as many as a thousand people. Black Lives Matter of Manchester helped organize the peaceful demonstration, which gathered in Veterans Park.

NHPR's All Things Considered host Peter Biello interviewed Ronelle Tshiela, a local organizer who spoke Saturday in New Hampshire's largest city.

Ali Oshinskie for NHPR

Protests in cities across the U.S. and in New Hampshire are turning the focus to the often fraught relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.

Sean Locke is director of the state's Civil Rights Unit in the Attorney General's Office, where he works on some of these issues.  

(Below is a lightly edited transcript of this interview.)

Sean Locke, thank you for speaking with me.

Thank you.

NHPR File Photo

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has released new protocols for how police departments should handle hate crimes.

The aim is to help law enforcement better identify and report hate crimes and civil rights violations in New Hampshire.

Bias incidents and hate crimes are underreported nationwide each year. According to a press release from the Attorney General's office, 48 departments in the state did not submit any information to the FBI related to hate crimes in 2017.

Ali Oshinskie for NHPR

A judge says a man who threatened to kill a transgender woman at a Planet Fitness in Nashua last March violated New Hampshire's Civil Rights Act. The verdict is one of the first for the state's new Civil Rights Unit.

On Friday, Marc Bernier was ordered by a judge to pay a fine of $500, to not enter the Planet Fitness in Nashua, to not come within 250 feet of the victim, and to not violate the Civil Rights Act again. If Bernier violates the terms of the injunction, the fine will increase to $3,000 and he could face criminal charges.

Sara Ernst

A Superior Court judge heard testimony Thursday in the case of a Nashua man accused of threatening a transgender woman.  The case is being pursued by the Civil Rights Unit at the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.

Hate rhetoric online has been linked to several recent incidents of mass violence in the United States and internationally. But even when this kind of speech doesn't lead to physical harm, it is damanging to the targeted group and the wider community. We look at how hateful language has impacted people over time, and what our legal system says. 

Ali Oshinskie / NHPR

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office released a 25-page report Wednesday summarizing its investigation into a high-profile attack involving children in Claremont in 2017.

 

The report revolves around the events of August 28, 2017, when a group of 13 and 14 year olds were accused of tying a rope around an 8-year-old biracial boy's neck and pushing him off a picnic table, leading to serious injuries.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

A Jackson hotel employee who was accused of violating the state’s Civil Rights Act has been fined and will pay restitution to her two victims.

Priscillla Protasowicki was accused of using force to remove two guests from her family's hotel on the basis of their religion and perceived national origin.  As part of a resolution agreement with the Attorney General, she will pay them $85, the cost of the room she had refused to refund.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

 

A bill to prohibit discrimination in New Hampshire's public schools passed its first test in the House today along mostly partisan lines.

Democrats say it will close a loophole in the state's anti-discrimination laws by allowing students who alleges discrimination to bring their case against a school in local courts.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Proposed legislation to prohibit discrimination in New Hampshire's public schools is gaining momentum.

The House Education Committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would allow any student who alleges discrimination to bring a case against a school or school district in the local courts.

File Photo, NHPR

 

State senators will hear testimony Monday on a bill that would prohibit discrimination in New Hampshire's public schools.

Courtesy

One of the state’s leading civil rights voices died over the weekend, just days before the holiday he helped enshrine.

Reverend Arthur Hilson, a retired Navy veteran, served as the longtime pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Portsmouth. 

Robert Garrova for NHPR

After holding 14 listening sessions across New Hampshire, Governor Sununu's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion has released a preliminary list of recommendations aimed at increasing equity in the state.

 

Among the six recommendations (you can read them all here) is a call to increase money for diversity training in schools.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

 

A New Hampshire court is ordering an inn manager accused of shoving a couple she thought were Muslim after getting into a dispute over a refund not to threaten anyone based on their religion.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

A Jackson woman accused of a hate crime says her actions inside a hotel lobby had nothing to do with the alleged victims’ religion.

In a preliminary hearing on Friday in Carroll County Superior Court, Priscilla Protasowicki told Judge Amy Ignatius, “I have no problem with their national origin, their religion. I have absolutely no issue with that.”

NHPR Photo

A woman from Jackson, New Hampshire, is being accused of a hate crime for allegedly assaulting two people in an effort to remove them from her family's business because of their religion and perceived national origin.

Priscilla Protasowicki, 32, was indicted on two counts of simple assault following an incident at the Covered Bridge Riverview Lodge in April.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would create legal protections for transgender people in New Hampshire. 

The bill would add gender identity to the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws.

It earlier passed in the House and on Wednesday in the Senate by a margin of 14-10.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu announced in December a new advisory council focusing on diversity and inclusion.

The council will present the governor with recommendations on how New Hampshire can improve equity in the state, including on issues of race, gender, age and disability.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Rogers Johnson who will chair the council.


Robert Garrova for NHPR

Dozens of supporters of what’s known as the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” delivered a letter to the office of New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse Monday, calling out what the group sees as an unfair tax system and unequal access to education, among other things.   

 

Representatives with the Campaign filed into the State House Monday morning, singing the spiritual “We Shall Overcome.”

 

NHPR File Photo

 

Governor Chris Sununu has announced the members of a new advisory council on diversity and inclusion.

 

The council includes representatives of state agencies, the university system, the ACLU, law enforcement, and others.

 

The group will be chaired by Rogers Johnson of the NAACP.

 

Sununu announced the creation of the council in December, following several high profile incidents of racial bias around the state.

 

The council's first meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8.

The full list of membership is below.

On MLK Day, Sununu Urges Support for Community Forums

Jan 16, 2018
Britta Greene / NHPR

Speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. event in Manchester, Governor Chris Sununu urged New Hampshire residents to add their voice to community forums in the coming months.

 

He pointed to his administration’s new council on diversity and inclusion, as well as a new Civil Rights Unit established within the Attorney General’s Office.

 

 

Britta Greene / NHPR

A new Civil Rights Unit in the New Hampshire Department of Justice shines a spotlight on the need for greater diversity and inclusion. Gov. Chris Sununu's announcement this week follows months of news reports about racial incidents, from Claremont to Durham and the University of New Hampshire.

Tackling the state's workforce issues

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