Denial of ‘yoga for peace’ event sparks protest in N.H. town

Friday, September 25, 2009

RAYMOND, N.H. — It may take more than a few deep breaths to bring peace back to Raymond, N.H.

About 40 protesters, including some carrying guns, showed up at the town common Sept. 20 after the town refused to allow Molly Schlangen to hold a “yoga for peace” gathering in honor of the International Day of Peace.

Town selectmen said Sept. 21 that they had rejected Schlangen's request because they didn't have enough information about her plans. The board of selectmen says it will develop a written procedure for use of town land.

Schlangen held the event at her studio instead. She said she considered it a blessing that the controversy generated more awareness of the day of peace.

The guns belonged to members of the Free State Project, who were promoting both the First and Second Amendments.

The Manchester, N.H., Union Leader reported that local residents who were not part of the Free State Project, also gathered Sept. 20 at the town common to protest the 3-2 board vote.

“I am upset the selectmen decided to restrict someone's First Amendment rights,” Free State Project member Jay Doobie of Dunbarton said, according to the newspaper. “I came to exercise my First and Second Amendment rights.”

The Union Leader reportd that “Doobie, and about six other people, openly carried guns while holding signs.”

Doobie's sign read: “Make no law abridging the freedom of speech or peaceable assembly.”

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