Demonstrators arrested at state budget protests will go to trial for trespass

  • Asma Elhuni, a Concord resident and Movement Politics Director for Rights and Democracy New Hampshire, speaks outside the Concord District Court on Aug. 20. Elhuni and five others protesting the state budget were arrested on June 24 and charged with criminal trespass. Cassidy Jensen / Monitor staff

  • Asma Elhuni, a Concord resident and Movement Politics Director for Rights and Democracy New Hampshire, outside the Concord District Court on August 20. Elhuni and five others protesting the state budget were arrested on June 24 and charged with criminal trespass. Cassidy Jensen—Monitor staff

  • Asma Elhuni of Concord, left, protests in the hallway outside Gov. Sununu's office on June 24. Monitor file

  • Alli Brokenshire (right), Dana Hackett and James Graham wait for Gov. Chris Sununu as they sit in at outer waiting area of his office on June 24. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/20/2021 2:17:10 PM

Five demonstrators arrested for protesting the state budget in June rallied with supporters Friday outside Concord District Court, where the activists had a court date for criminal trespass charges.

The five protesters – Asma Elhuni of Concord, N.H.; Alison Brokenshire of White River Junction, Vt.; Dana Hackett of Laconia, N.H.; James Graham of Lyme, N.H.; and Joy Robertson of Keene, N.H. – were joined by about two dozen people outside the courthouse during the morning hearing.

On June 24, New Hampshire State Police arrested the activists for refusing to leave the state Capitol after it closed at 5 p.m.

“We were unable to resolve the charges today,” attorney Andru Volinsky said at the rally. Volinsky, who is also a Rights and Democracy board member and a former Executive Councilor, said that protesters arrested on these types of charges can usually avoid a trial and that continuing the court proceedings was a waste of state funds.

“This morning, the state trooper assigned to our case refused to accept a reasonable plea deal that the prosecution was already on board with,” Dana Hackett said. Hackett is a member of Rights and Democracy New Hampshire, where Brokenshire and Elhuni work. “Instead, he decided to waste the money and resources taking us to trial,” she said.

Rights and Democracy Movement Politics Director Elhuni identified herself as a Muslim-American immigrant fighting for little girls that look like her.

“The budget that the governor signed into law is immoral to its core on many levels,” Elhuni said, “including the so-called divisive concepts, which is a part of a national cultural war agenda, to divide us as a people and to stop the possibility of talking about true history.”

At a recent school board meeting, Hackett said she expected to discuss the mask policy for Laconia schools but opponents of critical race theory dominated the conversation. “There were 50 to 100 people in that crowd spewing hate, spewing misinformation because they feel emboldened by the legislation that was just signed into law by our Governor Chris Sununu,” Hackett said.

Elhuni said that Rights and Democracy will come up with ways to fight against the “divisive concepts” legislation. One idea includes developing a toolkit for educators to explain how they can teach about racism without running afoul of the law.

A trial date has not yet been set.


Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.



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