Amid a riotous, allegedly drunken college crowd at a pumpkin festival last weekend, a local activist is claiming Keene, New Hampshire, police deployed a sniper team on a rooftop overlooking the streets.
Ean's caption accompanying his photos questioned if the alleged sniper was pointing a scope at him, which he wrote not only would be "a supposed violation of their own rules on safe firearm handling, but is also a mean and dehumanizing thing to do. Shameful snipers, I'm holding you responsible for making the drunken children riot all day and night..."
Ean told Vocativ he saw snipers at last year’s festival as well, adding that he questioned a police officer about what he believed were tactical units monitoring the festival. “He told us, ‘After the Boston bombing happened, this is just the way it is now,’” Ean told the site. It's unclear if Ean had the alleged conversation with police this year or last year.
Police in riot gear were seen on video and in photographs breaking up the rowdy crowd of Keene State college students Saturday afternoon. One student told the Boston Globe police used tear gas.
Keene Police Captain Steven Russo told TheBlaze on Wednesday that the department "implement(s) all prudent safety measures" for such events but doesn't discuss specifics regarding those measures.
More from Vocativ:
Though Keene is a sleepy New England town of 23,000, one would think it was a war zone, given the gear the Keene Police Department has acquired. The department accepted a $285,933 grant in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to purchase a Bearcat, an 8-ton armored vehicle designed for military use. Despite widespread opposition from the town’s residents, the police justified the purchase by claiming it was needed for counterterrorism operations. “The terrorism threat is far reaching and often unforeseen,” the department wrote in its application for the tank-like vehicle, citing the annual Pumpkin Festival as a potential terrorist target. In this context, the sniper team could be seen as yet another precaution.
Video taken by a private drone showed individuals on two rooftops apparently looking at activity on the streets, Vocativ said:
Another video showed a man toting a large bag as he climbed a latter to a rooftop. (Content warning: Profanity is uttered once in the clip):
“A lot of what the police do requires good community relations and interpersonal skills,” David Sklansky, a professor at Stanford Law School who specializes in law enforcement, told Vocativ. “Those are things that military equipment and tactics don’t necessarily help with.”
Vocativ noted that rioting students could be heard shouting, “Bring out the Bearcat!” Slansky added that when students "are getting out of control and throwing things at the police, then snipers aren’t necessarily helpful, and neither are armed vehicles.”
Here's a clip of Saturday's action:
This story has been updated.