CONWAY — About 200 people gathered peacefully Sunday afternoon to protest the deaths of African Americans in police custody, as well as the recent arrest of an Albany man during a traffic stop.
The Black Lives Matter demonstration at the “Four Corners” was organized by four college-age friends — Fiona Davis-Walsh of Albany, Molly Canfield and her twin sister Willa Canfield of Tamworth, and River Hayes.
The four said the protest was their response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the May 20 arrest of Jean Saint Preux of Albany.
The organizers said Saint Preux told them he supported the protest, but did not attend. On May 20, he recorded two state troopers breaking his car window during a traffic stop.
Saint Preux was charged with two counts of simple assault, disobeying a police officer and resisting arrest. State police said Saint Preux was initially stopped for not displaying a state inspection sticker, for which he was issued a violation.
“I believe the incident would have gone a whole lot differently had he (Saint Preux) not been black,” said Davis-Walsh, who, like her three co-organizers, had seen the video of Saint Preux’s arrest on social media.
In a statement, New Hampshire State Police Col. Nathan Noyes said that Saint Preux “refused to produce his license and vehicle registration” after he was stopped. When told he was under arrest, Saint Preux resisted the efforts of state troopers Margaret Ready and Hawley Rae “by locking the doors, rolling up the windows” and “pushing the troopers’ arms away,” Noyes said.
He is scheduled for arraignment on July 7 in Conway District Court.
Davis-Walsh said she hoped Sunday afternoon’s protest, at the intersection of NH Routes 16 and 153 and Washington Street, would raise awareness about the “ongoing lynching of black men and women and trans people” by police.
Willa Canfield said Saint Preux’s arrest “made it apparent that the issue of white supremacy” is present in the Mount Washington Valley, with her sister interjecting, “it’s everywhere.”