Sununu backs, preps for protests
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday his office will continue to monitor and work with groups protesting the death of George Floyd while also preparing for potential violence.
Sununu, a Republican, told reporters he is committed to learning from the death of Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
“The important conversation — we just want to make sure it does continue, a constructive one, one of positivity. The message does have to be heard, but we’re not going to condone or accept violence by any individuals,” Sununu said. “I’m here to assure the people of New Hampshire that we’re putting in every effort to make sure we’re prepared for whatever scenarios come.”
Sununu said he called protesters ahead of a peaceful march in Manchester on Saturday to tell them he supported their message. On Monday, about 60 people gathered at Hampton Beach for another protest, including several officers who joined in by taking a knee. Participants held signs that read “White Silence is Violence” and “We stand with black lives.”
The protest followed a call in which President Donald Trump berated most of the nation’s governors as “weak” for not cracking down harder on protesters. Asked to respond, Sununu said he is focused more on learning from governors and mayors around the country than on Trump’s comments.
“The president’s rhetoric is the president’s rhetoric,” he said. As for Trump’s comments urging local officials to “dominate” the streets, Sununu said, “No, I don’t think anyone needs to be dominated.”
“If anything, here in New Hampshire we’ve shown working together in a very constructive and peaceful way is clearly a pathway to be success,” he said.
Another reporter asked Sununu whether he’d encourage other groups to violate the state’s stay-at-home order and prohibition on large gatherings.
“Those that want to compare social injustices and issues surrounding the murder of George Floyd to the effectiveness of a stay-at-home order and social gatherings are completely missing the point,” he said. “That event was going to happen, and frankly, it should happen.”