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Gilmanton backs down: A win for free speech

March 05. 2018 6:12PM

Gilmanton selectmen have backed off the town’s attempt to force homeowners to remove signs critical of how selectmen are managing the town’s police department.

The town code enforcement officer sent letters to homeowners telling them that the signs, which read “We support Gilmanton police even if the selectmen don’t”, violated local ordinances. That prompted the ACLU of New Hampshire to protest. Last week, selectmen unanimously voted to rescind the code enforcement officer’s order and to notify homeowners that their signs can stay.

This is progress.

We would hope Chief Matt Currier joins in the spirit of cooperation and withdraws his request for a restraining order to prevent sharing information about his department with selectmen. It is not up to the chief, or to the courts, to decide if local elected officials are micromanaging the police department.

That’s up to Gilmanton voters. Several of them let their neighbors know where they stand by putting signs in their yards. That’s free speech, and that’s how these issues are supposed to be resolved.

Gilmanton officials need to grow thicker skins. Selectmen should be willing to let citizens express their displeasure. The police chief should not run to court just because he would rather not answer questions for selectmen on how he is running his department.

If Gilmanton voters don’t like the questions, they can pick new selectmen.

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