December 15, 2012 by bfranklin2076
Every four years, the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire serves as a hub for national media activity ahead of the state’s presidential primary. On January 8, 2012, journalists milling about the hotel could occasionally be overheard snickering at the strange melange of street protesters that had flooded Manchester’s downtown area: Ron Paul people, Occupy people, and assorted miscreants. These categories were not mutually exclusive.
Across the street from the hotel, at Veterans Park, the loosely-knit Occupy New Hampshire collective had established their encampment–a kind of outdoor public festival. The first person I encountered there was 21 year-old Manchester resident John Cullen, who wore a green armband signaling affiliation with OccupyNH (though of course there was no formal “membership”). Cullen told me he’d recently been pepper-sprayed by police at the Port of Oakland during a nationwide day of demonstrations. “I was actually trying to get out of there at that point,” he said; by coincidence, his family had been visiting members of their church in the Oakland area, and while Cullen supported Occupy, he wasn’t particularly eager to get doused with painful chemicals for the cause.
When I mentioned I’d be attending a Ron Paul campaign event at the University of New Hampshire in Durham later that evening, Cullen smiled and unzipped his jacket to reveal a classic “Ron Paul reEVOLution” T-shirt. In fact, he announced, it was only several hours prior that he’d participated in a group “sign-wave” outside Murphy’s Taproom, a major gathering point for Ron Paul people in the area. “When Ron Paul gets the Occupiers on his side,” he beamed, “Ron Paul is not going to be stopped. You can’t stop him.”