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N.H. Town Hall Closes, Citing Threats Over Police Chief's Visit To D.C. Protest

A sign supporting U.S. President Donald Trump stands on the roadside in Troy, N.H last year.
Brian Snyder
A sign supporting U.S. President Donald Trump stands on the roadside in Troy, N.H last year.

Officials in Troy, N.H., are keeping the doors to their town hall locked, after news that the town's police chief attended last week's large pro-Trump protest in Washington, D.C., triggered threats of violence.

"There have been a large number of emails and voicemail threats sent directly to the selectmen's office," Troy Select Board Chairman Dick Thackston told member station NHPR.

The angry messages, many of them profane, have overwhelmed the Select Board's voice mailbox, Thackston said.

Troy is a small town describes it as "a quaint New England town nestled at the base of beautiful Mount Monadnock," offering many outdoor sports. But it made headlines in the past week after revelations that Police Chief David Ellis was present at the rally in Washington that devolved into a riot and attack on the U.S. Capitol.

At the Capitol complex, Ellis criticized the invasion of federal property as he gave a brief interview to New York Magazine's Intelligencer, saying it was counter-productive and stating, "To see the police get treated the way they were treated, it's ridiculous."

The police chief told NHPR, "I've said it before, you can't solve things by violence." But he also had no regrets about attending the protest.

"There's a lot of Trump supporters that are awesome people," he told the Intelligencer. "Like me."

Last year, the police chief's support for Trump allegedly ran afoul of state law, after a video circulated showing a large pro-Trump banner in Ellis' office. The police chief removed the banner after the county attorney warned that it violated state laws prohibiting political paraphernalia in public buildings.

Ellis's trip to Washington led to calls for him to resign or be fired. But Thackston and others on Troy's Board of Selectmen have resisted those calls, saying that while they disapprove of the attack on the Capitol, the police chief was not involved in that part of the day's events.

Troy's police station is located directly behind the town hall building, which sits along the town's central square. The threats target both the Board of Selectmen's Office as well as town hall employees, according to the Selectmen's Office.

The office says it's maintaining its regular hours – but for now, people can only enter the town hall building if they have an appointment.

"Sorry, but this seems to be required by prudence at this time," the Selectmen's Office says in its notice to anyone wanting to visit Town Hall.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.