Hamptons Police Department officers responded to control crowds as a protest erupted in Southampton on Saturday. According to police spokesman Larry Hirsch, the protests began after two local residents were stopped as they were preparing to drive their military tanks around on a plot of town-owned parkland.
“The two individuals are part of the local community of recreational military tank drivers,” Hirsch says, “and they are upset that there are no local areas for them to legally enjoy driving their armored vehicles around.”
As police were instructing the two tank enthusiasts to remove their tanks from public property, a crowd of recreational tank driver supporters—probably alerted to the situation via social media—appeared at the scene and began to aggressively resist police activities. According to several of the protesters, they are particularly upset because a recent crackdown on driving tanks in the environmentally sensitive Pine Barrens has left them with few places to use their expensive toys.
Otto Panzer, who was among those arrested for obstructing the police, explained his position to reporters:
“I personally own two tanks, and because of a few tree-huggers and nervous nellies, I have to lug them all the way to Pennsylvania if I want to ride roughshod over the landscape, destroying all that lives in my path. Now, if I’ve spent money on a tank, doesn’t that obligate my neighbors to deal with the noise and environmental destruction I choose to create?”
The protest was brought under control by 7 p.m.