SALEM, N.H. — The National Guard was in Salem last Friday and Sunday as protests took place in Lawrence rallying against police brutality and racial injustice in honor of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police on May 25.
"Out of an abundance of caution, and in partnership with the Salem Police Department, Governor Sununu authorized the deployment of the N.H. National Guard Military Police to stage in Salem on (Friday and) Sunday night in the event that nearby protests turned violent," a spokesperson at the Joint Information Center said. "Based on intelligence and information received by the Salem Police Department, there were reports that individuals may attempt to riot and loot stores in Salem as a result of nearby protests in Lawrence."
There was no looting or violence in Salem because of the protests, but with extra law enforcement provided by the National Guard and the Rockingham County Sherrif's Office, the Police Department was able to provide cover when businesses received potential threats, Deputy Chief Joel Dolan said.
Police provided an extra security presence at the Mall at Rockingham Park at mall officials' request, Dolan said.
"We had had some problems with the mall both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The mall received some information (about) their security, so we provided some additional presence," Dolan said.
Both the Friday night and Sunday afternoon protests in Lawrence were peaceful. Later Sunday night in Lawrence two men were arrested for disorderly conduct hours after the protest had dispersed.
There have been other protests in the area, including one in Salem on June 4. About 150 attended the peaceful protest in front of Salem Town Hall while Salem police and officers from the Rockingham County Sherrif's Office provided crowd management assistance.
Dolan said the Salem police have been assisting with events to make sure people are able to peacefully protest and speak their minds.
"We want to make sure it it stays at a peaceful dialogue and doesn't get to the violence we are seeing elsewhere," Dolan said.