Sununu inaugurated amid virus, violence concerns

  • State Police watch from afar as people protest outside the Statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Concord, N.H., as Gov. Chris Sununu is inaugurated at noon for his third term as governor. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • People protest outside the State House on Thursday in Concord, as Gov. Chris Sununu is inaugurated at noon for his third term as governor. Charles Krupa / ap

Published: 1/7/2021 1:48:58 PM
Modified: 1/7/2021 1:48:46 PM

Republican Chris Sununu was sworn in as New Hampshire’s governor for a third term Thursday in a small, private ceremony shaped by concerns about both the coronavirus and potential violence.

Sununu originally planned to be inaugurated outside to allow for social distancing and avoid spread of the coronavirus.

“Then unfortunately, public safety concerns over the past month and unfortunately really culminating with the tragedy that we saw yesterday in Washington, D.C., brought yet another change,” he said as he kicked off “what is going to go down as the shortest inaugural ceremony probably in the state’s history.”

The noon ceremony at the Statehouse, attended by a handful of legislative leaders and streamed online, came a day after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. But Sununu’s decision to cancel the larger, outdoor inaugural was prompted in large part by events in his own backyard.

Opponents of restrictions imposed by Sununu during the coronavirus pandemic have been protesting outside his home in Newfields, where one was arrested last week carrying two dozen rounds of ammunition, Sununu said. On social media, some participants urged each other to bring weapons to future protests.

“It was not solely done because of the protesters at my home, although that was a very significant contributing factor,” Sununu said Tuesday. “There are other very direct threats that are made, unfortunately, and they’ve just simply been escalating.”

About 100 protesters gathered outside the Statehouse before and during the inauguration, along with a significant number of state and local police officers. Protesters carried both pro-Trump and anti-Sununu signs, some of which read: “No more mandates,” “Shut down Sununu” and “Masks Are Conditioning Us Into Slavery.”

Sununu planned to deliver his inaugural address Thursday night at 7 p.m. Like the swearing-in, it will be streamed online.

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