CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Community activists and people of color are denouncing a state lawmaker they once considered an ally but who now stands accused of intimidating a young Black man and endangering his life.
Rep. Nicole Klein-Knight, D-Manchester, was removed from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Monday at the request of Democratic leaders after a dozen Black, brown and Indigenous community organizers issued a letter condemning her.
The group said that Klein-Knight had worked with many of the signers in the past, but that her behavior in recent months has become alarming and “increasingly dangerous,” culminating in an episode at the Statehouse this month.
According to the letter, Klein-Knight accosted a young Black organizer after he testified on a bill, using a racial slur multiple times to make her point. Though the slur wasn’t directed at the young man, she continued to use it after he asked her to stop, and she later called security, according to the letter.
“Her habitual aggression and disregard is tearing apart the progressive community in NH, endangering BIPOC organizers’ lives and livelihoods and cannot be ignored any longer,” the group said.
Klein-Knight, who is in her second term, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the young man. He has filed an ethics complaint with Statehouse officials, according to Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray, one of the organizers who signed the letter.
Rodriguez-Murray said they and others have tried to resolve conflicts with the lawmaker privately. “She refused to engage with any of us and has blocked us on all social media platforms, called us antisemitic and bigoted, and tried to have many of us fired from our jobs,” Rodriguez-Murray said in an email.
Republican House Speaker Sherm Packard removed Klein-Knight from her committee at the request of Democratic Leader Renny Cushing, who called the language she is accused of using inexcusable and indefensible.