OUR ENVIRONMENT NEEDS MORE LOCAL REPORTING

The Concord Monitor is launching its Environmental Reporting Lab, a long-term effort to better inform the community about the New Hampshire environment. To launch phase 1 of this effort, we need your help. The money raised will go toward hiring a full-time environmental reporter.

Please consider donating to this effort.

 

Anger over GOP-backed budget about ‘more than just numbers’

View Photo Gallery
  • American Friends Service Committe organizer Anthony Harris encourages the crowd in the hallway outside Governor Sununu’s office on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The crowd outside the State House protesting the state budget on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • American Friends Service Committe organizer Anthony Harris encourages the crowd in the hallway outside Governor Sununu’s office on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • American Friends Service Committee organizer Anthony Harris (center) encourages the crowd in the hallway outside Governor Sununu’€™s office on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Alli Brokenshire, (right) Dana Hackett and James Graham wait for Governor Chris Sununu as they sit in at outer waiting area of his office on Thursday.

  • Members of the Kent Street Coalition dress up as handmaids to protest the latest budget during the “€œA Better New Hampshire is Possible Rally on Thursday.

  • Jullien Davis and Gabriela Castrillon hold up a sign at the budget protest at the State House on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Members of the Kent Street Coalition dress up in Handmaid’s Tale costume to protest the latest budget during the “A Better New Hampshire is Possible Rally” on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The protest against the current budget that just passed at the State House on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jullien Davis and Gabriela Castrillon walk through the halls of the State House on their way to Governor Sununu’s office to protest the budget on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kayla Turner of Dover holds up a sign outside of Governor Chris Sununu’s office to protest the budget on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Kayla Turner of Dover (left) and Anthony Harris of the American Service Committee walk throught the State House hallway to protest the current budget on Thursday, June 24, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/24/2021 5:49:24 PM

On the steps of the State House, a sea of people armed with signs – some dressed as Handmaids, others preparing to be arrested – gathered in opposition to the state budget. They had one clear message: the legislation does not represent them.

“We deserved a budget that works for us. We deserve a budget that does not harm us,” Grace Kindeke, program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee NH, told the crowd.

“That’s right,” they yelled back, waiving posters with their own messages.

“Keep your budget off our bodies,” read one sign.

“Critical race theory is true history,” said another sign.

Others, perhaps at a loss for words, stuck to acronyms.

“OMG GOP WTF?” someone wrote in large red and black block letters on a white piece of poster board.

For their part, Republican lawmakers who helped draft and pass the budget were proud of their work. They said the budget will cut taxes, give educational choice and provide funding for programs to protect “vulnerable populations.”

“In the end, budgets are so much more than just numbers, they’re about taking care of people’s needs in an honest, responsible way,” Senate President Chuck Morse said in a statement. “We built this budget on Republican principles and reliable revenues, and in the process, we also made certain we took care of the people of New Hampshire by making sure their concerns are our highest priority.”

The crowd on Thursday didn’t see it that way.

Together, a dozen organizations demanded a “people’s budget” that focuses on racial justice, reproductive rights, public education, disability justice, tax fairness and climate change.

To address their six demands, Kindeke invited a series of speakers to take the microphone.

James McKim, president of the Manchester NAACP, warned the crowd about components of the budget that have nothing to do with spending.

“There is non-budget-related social policy in the budget bill,” he said.

One of those is a ban on “divisive concepts,” which prohibits schools from teaching that one race or gender is superior and that there are conscious or unconscious biases individuals hold.

“Divisive concepts is saying there is no racism in New Hampshire but this nation was founded on racism,” said Anthony Harris, a decarceration organizer at the American Friends Service Committee. “We need to speak out about racism. We need to speak out about slavery. We got to have these conversations so you can understand me and I can understand you.”

Julien Davis and Gabriela Castrillon, stood on the crowded steps. Together they held a sign that featured a photo of Governor Chris Sununu smiling with white fangs. In red dripping letters it read “Sucking the life out of education.”

Davis’s mom made the sign for them last night.

As a student at Plymouth State University, Davis worried the divisive concepts ban would silence open conversation in classrooms across the state. He was upset the budget limited women’s reproductive rights by banning abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Castrillon didn’t know much about the bill until Davis taught her.

“I just thought it was a budget. I didn’t know you could put all of this in it,” she said.

As the demonstration moved into the building, the two held hands following the chants of “We shall not be moved.” They met each other on Tinder.

Clapping, marching and even drumming, the procession carried up the marble staircase straight to the Governor’s office.

Sununu’s staff kept their heads down and continued working. More people filled the room, demanding to see Sununu and have him promise to veto the legislation.

“Where’s he hiding?” one voice yelled.

Kayla Turner saw the event on Facebook and decided to come alone. Turner also attended the Black Lives Matter demonstration last year. This event was different though.

“It’s the first one I’ve been inside,” she said, wearing earring with pictures of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As the crowd was hushed and moved out of the governor’s office into the hallway, three people stayed behind. James Graham, Dana Hackett and Ali Brokenshire sat together on the floor. They had no intentions of moving until they heard from Sununu that he’ll veto the bill.

“I grew up here. I’ve been proud to be a Granite Stater until today,” said Brokenshire.

The three met while organizing for Rights and Democracy NH. They tried meeting with their state senators and representatives with no luck. Thursday, they planned to just sit and wait.

“I am doing the only thing I know how to do,” said Graham. “The budget they’ve passed is racist. Fundamentally racist.”

And for Hackett, she has nothing more to lose.

“As a 37-year-old mom with no criminal background, I have never felt in my life there was something more important to stand up to,” she said.

Outside the office, the crowd gathered down the marble hallway. Portraits of past governors hung above, as the crowd continued its demands, songs and chants. As the group lined the walls, a few stepped into the middle to share some words of their own. Among them, was former Rep. Ryan Buchanan, a Merrimack Democrat.

He used to sit in the building for work. Now, this was his first time back since the start of the pandemic.

“Governor Sununu says he didn’t write this bill. But if he puts a signature on it, it becomes his bill,” he told the crowd.

Chants of “it’s his bill” erupted in response.

While the crowd stood upstairs, both the House and the Senate gathered on the first floor and passed both bills.

“Shut it down,” the crowd yelled in unison when they heard the news. “It’s up to the governor,” they continued.

The bill now heads to Sununu’s desk for a signature but hopes for a veto seemed dim.

By the end of the day, Sununu offered praise, calling it “a win for every citizen and family in this state.”




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy