Republican lawmaker suggests dark-skinned hikers in New Hampshire carry ID to avoid being detained

By Colin Booth

June 5, 2024

In a committee hearing this week, Republican State Representative John Hunt told his fellow lawmakers that people with dark skin should carry ID with them in anticipation of being racially profiled and potentially detained while hiking in the state of New Hampshire.

Hunt’s remarks came after Democratic State Representative Anita Burroughs shared her concerns with the committee over legislation related to trespassing and property rights near New Hampshire’s border with Canada. Specifically, House Bill 1018, with language from Senate Bill 504 which allows landowners to post no trespassing signs on their property near the border while still allowing recreational activities like hiking or snowmobiling.

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In the committee meeting, Burroughs raised concerns that members of her family could be affected as this bill could enable racial profiling of hikers and others, since law enforcement would have to independently determine if someone was trespassing illegally or engaging in a permitted activity like hiking.

“I have a stepson who is actually born and bred in New Hampshire. He’s very dark skinned, just how he is. Why would he maybe possibly be detained if he was hiking in the North Country because he was dark skinned?” asked Burrough

The two went back and forth on the topic before Hunt said the quiet part out loud.

“I guess if he’s of a certain olive skin, maybe that’s a good idea to have a wallet with him,” Hunt said, implying that people with darker skin should carry ID with them while hiking in New Hampshire to avoid being detained.

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Critics say the bill was designed as a political maneuver to artificially elevate the threat of illegal immigration coming into the state from the Northern border, which Republicans in the state have sought to spin as a politically advantageous “crisis,” even though data has refuted those claims.

Full video of the interaction can be seen on the livestream of the commitee hearing.

Reached for comment after the hearing, Burroughs said the bill in question was wrapped up in Republican efforts to create a false narrative about illegal immigration at New Hampshire’s northern border to drive fear into voters.

“It was a showboat bill to talk about the danger of migrants, which I think is really exaggerated in the North Country.” Burroughs said. “Some of the language in the committee kind of kind of proved my point about my friends being targeted because of their complexion.”

The New Hampshire Democratic Party issued a statement in response to Hunt’s remark.

“Once again, the NH GOP’s obsession with using the state government to infringe on our rights and freedoms is on full display. Enough is enough. In the Live Free or Die State, all Granite Staters deserve to live and experience New Hampshire without fear of being stopped and detained because of the color of their skin,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “While Republicans continue to fixate on the issues that divide us, Democrats are working to solve the issues people in New Hampshire actually care about, like the rising cost of housing, childcare, and energy.”

Sebastian Fuentes, Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion Advisor at Volunteer NH said the remarks signal the need for better education for state lawmakers.

“When you think you have heard it all, Republicans in Concord surprise you. Representative John Hunt’s recent racist remarks in Committee of Conference meetings are deeply troubling and unacceptable. Such comments highlight the need for better racial bias training at the State House level,” Said Fuentes. “As a public official, Representative Hunt has a responsibility to foster inclusivity and respect for all constituents. His remarks set a damaging precedent, suggesting that bigotry has a place in our political discourse.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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