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Sununu inaugurated amid virus, violence concerns

  • Gov. Chris Sununu is sworn in for his third term by Associate Justice Gary Hicks during his inauguration ceremony in the Executive Council Chamber at the State House in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (David Lane/The Union Leader via AP **NOT AN AP PHOTO MEMBER**, Pool) David Lane

  • Gov. Chris Sununu gets sworn in for his third term by Associate Justice Gary Hicks during his inauguration ceremony in the Executive Council Chamber at the State House in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (David Lane/The Union Leader via AP **NOT AN AP PHOTO MEMBER**, Pool) David Lane

  • Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, after Sununu was sworn in for his third term at the Executive Council Chamber in the State House in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. Standing in back are House Speaker Sherm Packard, right, and Secretary of State William Gardner. (David Lane/The Union Leader via AP **NOT AN AP PHOTO MEMBER**, Pool) David Lane/The Union Leader via AP

  • Gov. Chris Sununu greets Associate Justice Gary Hicks during his inauguration at the Executive Council Chamber at the State House in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (David Lane/The Union Leader via AP **NOT AN AP PHOTO MEMBER**, Pool) David Lane

  • State Police watch from afar as people protest outside the Statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Concord, N.H., as Gov. Chris Sununu is inaugurated at noon for his third term as governor. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Gov. Chris Sununu applauds the Executive Council after swearing them in during his inauguration ceremony at the Executive Council Chamber at the State House in Concord, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (David Lane/The Union Leader via AP **NOT AN AP PHOTO MEMBER**, Pool) David Lane

  • People protest outside the Statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Concord, N.H., as Gov. Chris Sununu is inaugurated at noon for his third term as governor. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Published: 1/7/2021 10:14:17 PM
Modified: 1/7/2021 10:14:04 PM

CONCORD — Republican Chris Sununu was sworn in for a third term as New Hampshire’s governor Thursday in a small, private ceremony shaped by concerns about both the coronavirus and potential violence.

Sununu originally had planned to be inaugurated outside to allow for social distancing and avoid spread of the coronavirus.

“Then unfortunately, public safety concerns over the past month and unfortunately really culminating with the tragedy that we saw yesterday in Washington, D.C., brought yet another change,” he said as he kicked off “what is going to go down as the shortest inaugural ceremony probably in the state’s history.”

The noon ceremony at the Statehouse, attended by a handful of legislative leaders and streamed online, came a day after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential win.

But Sununu’s decision to cancel the larger, outdoor inaugural was prompted in large part by events in his own backyard.

Opponents of restrictions imposed by Sununu during the coronavirus pandemic have been protesting outside his home in Newfields, where one was arrested last week carrying two dozen rounds of ammunition, Sununu said. On social media, some participants urged one another to bring weapons to future protests.

“It was not solely done because of the protesters at my home, although that was a very significant contributing factor,” Sununu said Tuesday. “There are other very direct threats that are made, unfortunately, and they’ve just simply been escalating.”

About 100 protesters, most not wearing masks and a few of them armed, gathered outside the Statehouse before and during the inauguration, along with a significant number of state and local police officers. Protesters carried both pro-Trump and anti-Sununu signs, some of which read: “No more mandates,” “Shut down Sununu” and “Masks Are Conditioning Us Into Slavery.”

Ruth Marvin, 59, of Franklin, didn’t wear a mask and carried a sign that said, “I will not wear someone else’s fear.” She said she was there to protest Sununu’s executive orders because she believes her sister died in a hospital because she wasn’t allowed to have visitors. Hospital visits have been restricted because of the pandemic.

Her sister had pancreatitis, she said, and a relative who brought her to the hospital in May wasn’t allowed to be with her.

“My sister died because of his restraints,” she said. “She went into the hospital for something very curable, and because of his restraints, my sister died all alone in the hospital within 24 hours.”

In an inaugural speech delivered Thursday night, Sununu thanked health care workers and others for their efforts to combat the virus and promote a spirit of cooperation in the new year.

“It is the New Hampshire way to join together within our communities and not let politics or prejudice divide us,” he said. “2021 will not be better simply because we want it to be. 2021 will not be better only because we wish it to be. 2021 will only be better if we are willing to look in the mirror and first initiate that change within ourselves.”

The speech also includes a message for those who have opposed the pandemic restrictions.

“Some hide behind our Live Free or Die motto to justify actions and promote an agenda of discord. They use it to defend their unwillingness to make sacrifices for the good of our communities,” he said. “Yes, we treasure our Live Free or Die culture, but not at the expense of being a good and responsible neighbor.”




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