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Manchester resident Ben Hopps and and others hold a sign protesting police tactics during a rally Tuesday evening at City Hall plaza in Manchester. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER))

Manchester police actions called into question at rally


MANCHESTER — A liberty activist said the New Hampshire Attorney General should make a legal inquiry into the shelter-in-place order issued last month by the Manchester police after they arrested a suspect for the non-fatal shooting of two police officers.

Carla Gericke, the former president of the Free State Project, said she would also like to see Attorney General Joseph Foster issue a memorandum that stresses that any citizen who does not abide by a shelter-in-place should not be treated as a criminal.

Gericke addressed about 60 people Tuesday evening during a rally at City Hall designed to highlight what organizers said was a growing militarization of city police. Signs read “More Mayberry, Less Fallujah,” “Lock Downs are for Prisons,” and “Free People Move Freely.”

“Crime is down, violence against police is down. Why do we need this constant escalation?” Gericke said. “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

On May 13, Manchester police issued a five-hour shelter-in-place order for a large part of the West Side, an action that took place after alleged shooter Ian MacPherson was taken into custody.

A West Side alderman said police were searching for a weapon, and citizens were safer inside until it was found.

Keith Hirschmann of Ward 12 said that his son lives on Bartlett Street, close to where police concentrated their search.

Angered by the rally, Hirschmann said he wants to fund the police even more.

“Our city needs every resource we can to keep our citizenry safe,” he said.

The rally also drew Krystle Crossman, the founder of the ManchVegas Alerts Facebook page; Crossman said she showed up in support of police.

“What if children had been out running around and they found the gun?” Crossman said.

Meanwhile, court records show that a judge rejected calls by police to hold Patrick Clark, 35, in jail without bail following a June 1 standoff outside his Krakow Street apartment. The standoff involved the SWAT team and Manchester Police Department’s Bearcat.

It ended with police shooting teargas into the apartment and Clark leaving the building.

According to court records, Clark’s mother had spoken to her son’s landlords and told them he had mental health issues and was self-medicating with methamphetamine.

Clark eventually threatened landlords and police. He said he had weapons. He warned he would kill anyone who tried to take him into custody without a warrant. And he twice made a 10-to-zero countdown, according to police affidavits.

The affidavits make no mention of any discovery of weapons or a meth lab in the apartment.

During the rally, protesters said the Bearcat has been deployed twice recently.

“Bring in a pastor or a family member before you bring the SWAT team and Bearcat,” Gericke said.

mhayward@unionleader.com