“obfuscation, stonewalling, say-nothing, do-nothing, run-away!” – words ‘shire-based videographer Dave Ridley used to describe the actions of Ken Meola, Keene Police Department employee, when he’s questioned.
My own experience has been the same. The handful of times I’ve been in Meola’s presence and have attempted a conversation with him, he’s remained mute.
Perhaps I should be surprised, seeing as the mission Meola claims to uphold lists “courtesy” as a main component, but I’m aware of the perverse incentives in the monopolistic, hierarchical structure in which he works.
Is Meola’s statement – that the recently-acquired Bearcat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) will not be modified – to be believed? Meaning, that no extra armaments will be added to the 19,000-lb vehicle?
I don’t think any sane person would put-forth that this militarized vehicle needed in quaint Keene, and therefore, nor would any additional accessories (used to kill those who don’t obey).
But recall, Meola and some of his colleagues justified the acquisition of the vehicle because it was “free” (it’s not free obviously, the DHS, through those who pay their annual ransom to the larger, federal government, covered the cost of the 286,000FRN piece of hardware to Keene PD and 299 other towns).
Is it likely that Meola and his co-conspirators would turn-down with a battering-ram arm used to inject gas, or a turret-mounted gun? If we who value peace, accountability, and consensual interactions stay focused on the actions of those who claim a “legitimate” right to initiate force the chances are definitely less-likely…
On August 6th police departments across the states held “national night out” to try to better community relations.
I stopped by the Keene police department. Present was the BEARCAT – which was brought to town last year despite the overwhelming pushback from townsfolks who said “Thanks but no tanks!”
Right now, just an hour or so to the north, so-claimed “public officials” in Concord are attempting to do the same.
But hey – at least some folks at the LENCO plant down in Pitsfield, MA have jobs right?
They’re staying busy cranking out these vehicles. Thanks to federal money from the misnamed Department of Homeland Security – BEARCATS are now in 300 towns.
A DHS grant – which, to be clear, is coin stolen from taxpayers – also provided a mobile command center to the Cheshire County sheriffs – the outfit now headed by former Keene police employee Eli Rivera.
I was hopeful that I could finally have a conversation with someone who has thus far, played hard to get since my time in Keene.
Despite a number of attempts to initiate a convo, or even just get a reciprocal “hello” or “good afternoon” Ken Meola has steadfastly refused to engage. Perhaps today, in public, things would be different.
Keene now has a Bearcat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck).
Does the world you want to live in include this militaristic vehicle?
Check out this stellar overview video put-together by YouTube.com/LightspeedLiberty, which compares the Bearcat to Keene’s Fire Truck #1 [*note, only slight alterations were made for this version].
The lie peddled over and over to try to assuage the vocal widespread opposition, was that the Bearcat was as a “rescue” vehicle. Seems as though Ken Meola and his cronies read a bit too much from Vladimir Lenin, who stated, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Unlike our “protectors”, I think most of us are too smart to buy-into that misinformation.
Do you really think Keene residents would choose to pay-up to bring such a monstrosity to town??
Remind yourself, as the double-speak surrounding this issue and these institutions is prevalent – the folks who brought the Bearcat to town claim to protect you. That “protection” is done at the barrel of a gun. All Keene residents, whether they like it or not, are told “pay up” or else.
What if you’re not happy with the services rendered? How do you feel if you see a Keene police cruiser in your rearview mirror? Nervous? Anxious? Doesn’t that seem odd?
As well-intentioned as some employed at the Keene police department genuinely are, there’s no way the current policing structure can ever realize its very worthwhile goal (for a safe community). They simply lack the proper incentives.
To put it plainly, the lack of competition means there’s an oversupply of policing. And a lack of accountability.
We don’t turn to a centralized, top-down hierarchy to provide goods arguably more important than policing, such as food (without which, you’d sooner be in peril), so why believe a force-backed structure is necessary in this case?
Hopefully individual Keene police employees will think about this seriously and act aligned with their conscience, which I hope means that they’ll refuse to operate the Bearcat. That’d be a significant step. And admittedly it’d be a tough step to take, when in that “thin blue line” culture, but what does it same about ones character if opt to act according to the dictates of another rather than themselves.
As the saying goes – create the world in which you want to see. The Bearcat is here. But that doesn’t mean it has to get used. It’d be a powerful action that’d resonate with others if individuals in that environment choose not to unthinking comply, but to side with those they claim to serve and, I’d hope, with their own conscience.
That seems to me the best choice for us now, and for future generations.
I was shocked to hear the news on WKBK earlier this week that Brian Costa, Keene’s police chief since 2015, had died in his home one week ago. I was even more surprised to learn he was just 46 years old. Unlike his predecessor, Brian treated me like a human being. He was kind, respectful, and approachable. Surely he and I disagreed on various subjects, but that never stopped him from being willing to work with me where we agreed. The few times I’d interacted with him in his too-short-a-term as police chief, I was impressed with his humanity and professionalism. Though I didn’t know him well, I wish I did.
Years ago when I moved here, as many activists do, I had an axe to grind with the police. The police, as the enforcement arm of the state, were obviously the bad guys. However, as one of the original Cop Blockers, (Badge #5) out in the streets as often as I was, it didn’t take me long to begin connecting with the Keene police as fellow human beings (instead of mindless statist automatons, which is easy for us libertarians to think about police if we don’t know them). The most memorable early paradigm-shifting encounter was my ride-along with KPD’s Shane Maxfield, nearly a decade ago.
At various different activist events in Keene, (the home of Cop Block) I encountered Brian Costa on multiple occasions, who prior to becoming chief was one of KPD’s two captains. However, due to him being a captain, his responsibilities were more management than they were patrol, so our contact was fairly limited at that time.
Imagine my pleasant surprise then, when one day shortly after Brian’s appointment as Keene police chief, I was standing out in Central Square, distracted by something on my phone. As I looked up from my device, there he was right in front of me! Brian was dressed in his full Keene police uniform, as any other patrol officer would be. He explained that he’d seen me from his walk downtown and he wanted to introduce himself.
I’ll always remember that about him. I was struck by how humble he appeared. Not only was he not above walking the streets like any other KPD officer, but that he would take time to come over and say hello was really impressive. I was happy to meet him officially and grateful to be treated like a human being by KPD’s chief for the first time in years.
Then, early in 2016, Brian called me out of the blue and asked me for help. There was a bad batch of heroin that had been hitting the streets and leading to overdoses. He had reached out to me as the publisher of Free Keene (Keene’s most popular blog and a Google news source), hoping that I would help get the word out about the bad batch of drugs. Of course I would. Though I’m against the war on drugs and it was Brian’s job to enforce it, we found common ground in the goal of harm reduction. I told him I’d get on it, thanked him for thinking of me, and immediately published this article about the bad dope. When I share goals with someone, despite our differences, I’m willing to work with them to accomplish our common goals. This builds bridges between people on opposite sides of other issues, increasing the likelihood of further communication and a growing mutual respect. Brian understood this, and he earned my respect by being a decent person.
Now, he’s gone from this world, and WAY too soon. Whoever is chosen as his permanent replacement has some BIG shoes to fill. I really wish I could have gotten to know Brian better. I feel like I missed out. (more…)
After I got off-the-air from my live Saturday radio program (on which we discussed the initial Pumpkin Fest 2014 riots), I headed back down to the college. At the time, there was a helicopter broadcasting a message to disperse or be arrested. I arrived at the gateway to Keene State College – Winchester St. to witness a huge throng of police marching down the street. I quickly pulled out my camera and began to record:
After walking around the nearest building on campus, in full view of the line of police, activists walked onto campus and right back over to Winchester St. We continued walking west on Winchester and no cops said anything to us there. However, we again went on campus and came back out on Madison St., on the west end of the college. Here there were several police standing around the intersection and one of them told me we couldn’t pass, despite college students walking down Winchester St. immediately behind them. (more…)