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Court Says Supporters of ‘Rebel Girl’ Marker Lack Standing, Tosses Lawsuit

The left-wing activists who got the state to install a historical marker honoring Concord-born Communist Elizabeth Guerly Flynn don’t have the legal right to challenge the marker’s removal, Merrimack Superior Court Judge John Kissinger ruled.

On Wednesday, Kissinger dismissed the suit filed by outspoken progressives Arnold Alpert and Mary Lee Sargent against the state, ruling they lack the legal standing necessary to bring their lawsuit.

“While no one disputes the time and effort expended by the plaintiffs in relation to the Flynn marker, the court finds no support for a determination that such efforts give rise to a legal right, interest, or privilege protected by law,” Kissinger wrote.

Alpert said he’s mulling an appeal of Kissinger’s dismissal.

“We’re reviewing the court order and considering next steps. I believe we have 10 days to file for reconsideration if we so choose,” Alpert said.

Alpert and Sargent’s attorney, Andru Volinsky, did not respond to a request for comment.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

The Historic Highways marker for Flynn was removed after state officials, including Executive Councilor Joe Kenney (R-District 1) and Gov. Chris Sununu, learned Flynn was an unrepentant Stalinist who led the Communist Party USA during the height of the Cold War. At one point, she was convicted of advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

Flynn was such a strong supporter of the Soviet Union that she received the rare honor of a Red Square funeral.

The monument was removed from its Concord location on May 15, less than two weeks after it was unveiled.

Volinsky tried to claim in court that Sununu illegally ordered the marker removed. But Kissinger wrote that the governor’s involvement was immaterial.

The marker was created and installed using state resources, and its removal was a decision made by state employees, according to Kissinger’s ruling. Because Alpert and Sargent have no right under any New Hampshire law to challenge the marker’s removal, whoever made the decision is not important, he wrote.

The marker was unveiled on May 1, May Day, and the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources promoted Flynn’s tribute. That did not sit well with Kenney, who complained at the May 3 Executive Council meeting. At that meeting and in the ensuing days, Sununu promised to do something about the marker.

The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources changed the rules for removing historical highway markers after that May 3 meeting, allowing for the removal of markers that could be deemed inappropriate. However, according to the lawsuit, the new rules still required that the decision go to the Historical Resources Council.

According to the lawsuit, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Commissioner Sarah Stewart ignored the rules and ordered the marker taken down on May 12.

The marker was removed on May 15 and is currently in the possession of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

Flynn was a labor activist and an early feminist and helped found the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU would later oust her over her embrace of Soviet-style Communism.