Civilly Disobedient UBER Driver Stephanie Franz, courtesy CBS Boston
It’s been almost a year since Stephanie Franz aka “UBER Grandma” was the first UBER driver cited for driving people safely to their destination in Portsmouth, NH. The city has been targeting brave UBER drivers with tickets for operating without government permission slips. In the Summer of 2015 the city gang declared UBER drivers who did not jump through the city’s hoops in addition to UBER’s background check and sign up process, would be targeted for ticketing.
UBER has provided Stephanie with an attorney and she’s ready to face down the city gang in court. However, there have been multiple reschedulings of the date, so hopefully this is the final one: Please join UBER Grandma at Portsmouth District Court at 8am on December 13th (here’s a facebook event) and support her courageous stand for your freedom to drive people places without having to ask government permission!
As we have for the past few years, the Keene Liberty Alliance conducted an exit poll on state primary day asking the question, “Is government too big, too small, or just right?”. This year we polled for about two hours in the evening outside of Keene’s ward four and seventy people responded to the question, with 42 of 70 (60%) choosing “too big” and 28 (40%) choosing “just right”. No one who responded thought government was “too small”.
Also, thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Democratic gubernatorial primary this year. I ran under the NH Liberty Party banner again as I did in 2014 and received 1,069 or 1.47% of the votes cast, putting me in fourth place out of five. That’s not quite as many votes as the 1,719 I received in 2014, but I likely got some protest votes then against Maggie Hassan who was the incumbent at the time. Given my 2016 campaign spent all of $5 on postage and a few bucks on gasoline to drive to media interviews, that’s a pretty good dollars-spent-to-votes-received ratio.
In 2012, Darryl W. Perry was frustrated with New Hampshire’s embarrassingly ineffective Libertarian Party and its unwillingness to promote the idea of New Hampshire declaring independence from the United States. He joined me and Conan Salada in founding a competitor to the Libertarian Party of NH, which we called the New Hampshire Liberty Party. Darryl has served a key role on our state executive committee ever since, running the yearly conventions and handling the member rolls, in addition to running for office.
This year, Darryl ran for the presidential nomination from the national Libertarian Party and sadly did not receive it, as the LP for years has been compromised on its principles. They proved it yet again with this year’s nomination of Gary Johnson, a former Republican – not a libertarian and definitely not a secessionist.
Darryl followed up his presidential run by launching a principled lobbying firm to focus on NH called Liberty Lobby, he’s lost over a hundred pounds in the last year or so, and just this weekend was unanimously elected to the position of chairman of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, ousting the previous no-show chairman who held the seat for years.
It’s a positive sign for the Libertarian Party of NH, which has been floundering for years. The LP of NH has long been a black mark on the otherwise vibrant libertarian community we have here in the Shire. Hopefully Darryl’s election to chair with Rodger Paxton, also a member of the NH Liberty Party, being newly elected to the LP’s vice-chair position will bode well for the future of the LP in New Hampshire. If we’re lucky, we’ll see them add a plank about NH independence into the LP of NH’s party platform in 2017.
Darryl has put in his resignation as a co-chair of the NH Liberty Party as a result of his election to the Libertarian Party chair role, as his time is already limited due to his many activist projects. I wish him the best. We’ll continue our role as New Hampshire’s only pro-secession political party, fielding candidates, and actively seek a new co-chair, though filling Darryl’s shoes is a tall order.
As promised in a press release earlier this week, Keene liberty activists followed through on a promised Beer Pong event in Railroad Square. Held Saturday at noon, the event was intended to call attention to the oppressive open container ordinance here in Keene. Event organizer Bob Call was interviewed by reporters from the Keene Sentinel and Union Leader and explained how the ordinance targets college students and poor people and doesn’t do anything to actually keep drunk people off the streets.
The open container ban does however transfer a lot of wealth to the state from the victims of the police’s aggression. Enforcing open container means big money for the government, and as event co-organizer Chris Waid points out, it also protects restaurants and bars, giving them the exclusive ability to allow someone to enjoy alcohol on the sidewalk. That means the law is discriminatory in that if you can’t afford to pay for a drink at restaurant/bar prices, you can’t enjoy a drink outside in downtown Keene.
Yesterday’s protest went well and no one was arrested despite the police threatening everyone playing beer pong with arrest. They cited a city ordinance that arguably does not even apply to Railroad Square, claiming playing games involving throwing a ball are prohibited in the area! Either they were bluffing or they didn’t actually read the ordinance, which specifically states that throwing games are banned from Central Square and “on the streets and sidewalks of the downtown area”. I supposed someone could argue that Railroad Square is a street or sidewalk, but there’s a strong argument it’s neither.
Officers Colin Zamore and Andrew Lippincott deliver threats to the beer pong activists.
Plus, the ordinance is clearly intended to address games that could cause interference in the normal traffic of business in the downtown area: “For the safety and protection of participants, pedestrians, passersby, motorists, and property, no person shall, unless authorized by permit, play games involving running, jumping, throwing, catching, or similar physical activity, including but not limited to games of ball”. Even if it could be argued that Railroad Square is a street or sidewalk, it’s pretty clear that no one’s safety is in jeopardy from a ping-pong ball. The ordinance was obviously crafted to stop frisbee and football players’ projectiles from flying into traffic around Central Square, as it specifically prohibits such activities from that area.
Perhaps that’s why Keene police officers Colin Zamore and Andrew Lippincott never returned after threatening the group with arrest if they continued playing after fifteen minutes had gone by. The activists continued to play for about thirty more minutes and then declared victory and went home. (more…)
The world has changed since then. Recording law enforcers is now commonplace. Enforcers in a dozen more states now leave peaceful pot smokers alone. The top series on Netflix is a show about prison overpopulation. Everyone knows that the people calling themselves “the government” spy on their computers, emails, phone calls, and texts, but digital privacy is now possible for all thanks to new apps and devices with built-in encryption. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are now beginning to come into wide use.
There’s a lot of reason to be hopeful. Now more than ever, the world is ready for you to question your obedience. Dozens have told me the movie inspired them to move to New Hampshire. That’s the most rewarding part of the experience. In the end, I was facing 9 years if convicted of all charges (none involving a victim). I was sentenced to 540 days in jail, and I ended up serving 60 for my “crime spree.”
Friends made it possible: Ian Freeman (producer), Beau Davis (editor), and the people of the Shire Society who inspire action. I hope Victimless Crime Spree inspires you to achieve more freedom, peace, happiness, and the object of your dreams.
Maybe it should be strip beer pong instead? Photo courtesy theCHIVE.
This Saturday, 9/17 at noon, activists will gather in Keene’s Railroad Square and play beer pong in protest of the open container ordinance. The event will be in the spirit of 2010’s Drinking Game, which resulted in my arrest in the city council chambers for “disorderly conduct”, but the charge later dropped. Inspired by the past actions, a new batch of movers to Keene will be taking up the banner of protesting the ridiculous ban on open containers of alcohol.
There are many towns and cities where open containers are allowed, including some right here in New Hampshire. Nearby Westmoreland, for instance, does not have an open container ordinance. The oppressive ordinance is just an excuse to target college students and poor people, give them tickets, and reap thousands of dollars into the system from the victims. It doesn’t stop drunk people from being on the streets, nor does it discourage them from drinking. The ordinance merely takes advantage of drunk people. It’s shameful and needs to be abolished.
I spoke with the beer pong event organizer, Bob Call, today about his motivations. He said, “I think the law is unjust and it’s ridiculous that you can sit outside at local businesses in Keene and consume alcoholic beverages legally, but not if you consume your own alcoholic beverage.”
Labeled containers are likely probable cause for a search. Don’t carry them around.
I’m no attorney, and this is not legal advice, but if you are ever targeted by police for a suspected open container of alcohol, DON’T CONSENT TO A SEARCH! This is the number-one mistake made by the police’s victims. Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate. If you are walking with a drink in a bottle or cup that is not clearly an alcohol container, the officer will likely approach and say something like, “I have to ask you to hand that over.” At that point, most people will hand it over, consenting to a search of their container.
Take note of the careful wording of the officer’s statement. “Have to”, plus it being spoken in an authoritative manner makes is sound a lot like an order. However, it’s not. He says “ask”. If you’re ever uncertain about what an officer is saying, you have a right to ask, “Is that a request?” or whatever other questions you want. If you are clearly carrying am actual beer bottle, that’s likely enough probable cause for a search, and they won’t have to ask. On the other hand, if there is no clear way they could know by looking that it’s likely a container of alcohol, they have to get your consent to search. Don’t do consent. Politely decline their invitation, ask if you are free to go, and walk away.
See you Saturday 9/17 at noon at Railroad Square in downtown Keene for the beer pong event!